Summary: With social distancing rules relaxed, dancing is a popular activity among adults of all ages. Dance provides physical and psychological benefits.
The study improves dancing, cardio exercise, balance, strength and memory. Researchers emphasize the importance of safe practices such as learning proper technique, warming up, and using proper footwear to prevent injuries.
- Dance checks a lot of boxes for health: it improves balance, core strength, flexibility, and provides a great cardio workout. Increases psychological health by increasing social interaction.
- Research shows that dancing, an exercise that requires memory steps, can help preserve memory for individuals of all ages.
- As an athletic activity, dance requires good practices to prevent injuries. This includes learning proper technique, starting slow, warming up and cooling down, listening to your body, staying hydrated, wearing proper footwear, and practicing good dance etiquette.
Source: Hospital for Special Surgery
With physical distancing no longer a concern for most people, recreational dancing, exercise and socializing are back on the agenda for adults of all ages. Its popularity can be seen on Meetup.com, which lists numerous dance events around the country.
Kathleen Davenport, MD, a physiatrist at HSS Florida in West Palm Beach, isn’t surprised. She specializes in the non-surgical treatment of orthopedic injuries and conditions with special expertise in dance therapy.
HSS Florida is New York Hospital’s regional outpatient site for specialty surgery, consistently ranked as the number one orthopedic hospital in US News and World Report and other organizations.
“I have patients from young children to 90 years old who enjoy Latin and other forms of dance,” said Dr. Davenport, who serves as company physician and international president-elect of the Miami City Ballet. Society of Dance Medicine and Science. She hosts both professional and recreational dancers at HSS Florida.
A competitive ballroom dancer herself, she passionately advocates the activity for its physical and psychological benefits. “I like to say that dance checks a lot of boxes. “In social dancing, you meet different people and you can make new friends, which has many psychological benefits,” she says.
“On the physical side, you need good balance, you need core strength, if you’re doing partner work, you need strength in your lower and upper extremities. Dancing can also be a good cardio workout.
Some studies show that exercise is also beneficial for mental health. “When you dance, you need to remember the steps and how to do them. We’ve found that dancing helps preserve memory as we age, so it’s beneficial for people of all ages,” said Dr. Davenport.
Perhaps most importantly, dancing feels good, with many people experiencing a sensation similar to the so-called “runner’s high.” “When you do something pleasurable, especially exercise, endorphins, the ‘happy’ hormones, are released. By releasing these hormones, our bodies encourage us to engage in these activities,” she explains.
As with any athletic activity, good habits can help prevent injury. Dr. Davenport offers advice on getting the most out of dance for relaxation and fitness:
- It’s all about technique. If you are new to social dancing, take some lessons to learn the correct steps and technique. Many social events begin and warm up with group lessons.
- Start slowly. Increase gradually as you build muscle strength and endurance. Don’t start by dancing for hours without a break. This can be serious and cause damage to the body.
- Preheat. After the dance, do some gentle stretching.
- Listen to your body. If you are tired, rest. If you over-danced the day before, it might be a good idea to skip an event. This will help you avoid over-injury.
- Stay hydrated. Dancing provides good exercise, so keep water handy to ensure adequate hydration.
- Get off the dance floor if you feel any pain or possible injury, even the slightest. Continuing to dance can turn a minor problem into a serious injury.
- Choose the right shoes for your dance style.
- Take an honest look at your shoes. For Latin dancing, for example, heels are generally recommended, but not the right shoes for all women. Make sure you’re in shoes that support the movement and don’t cause pain.
- Parents are advised to check their children’s dance shoes every year. Adults should check that their shoes are still in good condition at least every two years or after recovering from a foot injury.
- If you’re a former or seasoned dance enthusiast who’s taken a break, get back into it. Slowly return to your previous level.
- In some places the music is too loud. If uncomfortable, consider asking the DJ to turn down the volume or wear earplugs.
- Beginners may want to learn about dance etiquette. Studios and dance clubs often post useful information on their websites.
Dr. Davenport says participating in good practices can help everyone reap the benefits of dance now and in the future.
So dance, health and psychology research news