So you think you know about dance?
“We dance for laughter, we dance for tears, we dance for madness, we dance for fears; We dance for hopes, we dance for screams, we are the dancers, we create the dreams.” – Albert Einstein
Have you noticed how drastically fit do the contestants of “Dancing With Stars” become during the course of the reality show?
They seem to glide with more grace and poise.
They somehow look slimmer and more energetic compared to their beginning-of-season self. No, this is not an article which is going to yet again drone on about dancing helps you lose weight and burn those calories.We are going to delve a little bit deeper.
Today, we find out how this age-old art has got more to do with our bodies and minds, in addition to burning off those extra calories.
Martha Graham spent seven decades choreographing and perfecting ballet dancing. In her acclaimed easy, she describes a dancer as an “athlete of God”.
Her essay goes to lengths in explaining how dancing is more of a transcendental experience. According to her dancing is an ageless form of expression that has the capacity of unifying the mind, body, and soul.
But are her claims scientifically accurate? When Einstein quoted the above the piece of poetry, was he just speaking metaphorically, or was his claim backed with sturdy scientific facts?
Is dancing really beneficial for you?
This article reveals it all.
Read on to find out the fascinating ways you can change your overall body and mind just by tap-tap-tapping your feet to your favorite music track.
1. Hip-Hop for the hippocampus
And no we are not talking about the chubby sub-aquatic mammal of the Saharan-Africa, the Hippopotamus.
We are talking about the hippocampus which is the region of the brain responsible for memory storage.
This cerebral entity is largely involved in helping us navigate through the 3-dimensional space without tripping over. Whether it’s remembering people’s names and birthdays, what to buy during the next trip to the grocery store, or the everyday route to your work, hippocampus does it all.
When a person is diagnosed with any form of dementia such as the Alzheimer’s or hit with the Parkinson’s disease, the hippocampus suffers the first blow.
The neural synapses in our brain (electric signals between neurons) also lose their strength because of these conditions. And even in people who are not suffering from these conditions, aging gradually takes away the cerebral agility.
So, where does dancing fit in this picture?
Extensive studies have shown that regular dancing increases the volume of the hippocampus.
Regular dancers also showed increased neural activity in their brains.
Now the thing with our brain is that it is highly plastic, i.e, things are not largely “hard-wired”, contrary to popular belief.
Our brain is highly adaptive to changes and will compensate for the extensive use (or the lack of it), by bringing changes at the neural levels.
Frequent dancers are literally always on their feet; the fast movements and changes in rhythm involve a lot of rapid-decision making. This results in the brain creating newer and more complex neural pathways.
This makes you more intelligent and mentally active.
Not to mention, the sudden release of endorphins which elevates your mood.
A happier and active brain is very less likely to suffer from serious neuro-degenerative conditions or lose its spark anytime soon.
So, not just to show off your killer moves, you should be dancing more to pump up those grey cells too!
2. I (heart) Dance
Be it a twist, a twirl, or a foxtrot- those smooth dancing moves will also keep your heart pumping and healthy.
Research has indicated that people over 40, who dance regularly, decrease their chances of dying from a cardiac event by a whopping 50%.
This is 21% more than what normally people achieve through other forms of exercise such as walking.
The secret lies within the fact that dancing is a form of high-impact, high-intensity workout which is largely disguised.
When people kick-start any exercise regimen, be it because of their age, medical condition(or one of those pesky New Year’s resolutions) they are hardly able to commit to it.
The hard-work and discipline required to getting up early and hitting the gym every morning do sounds atrocious. The monotony of running aimlessly on a treadmill or lifting weights sucks out all the joy of being physically active.
And that’s why dancing is different from all.
Dancing is fun and frolic.
It is meeting new people, moving your body with the pumping-beats, and reveling in your body’s flexibility. The music and ambiance keep one largely entertained.
You are motivated to return to the dance-floor every day, without feeling forced.
This makes dance an exercise activity which you can adopt for the longer run.The jumping and pumping increase your heart beat just like any other aerobic exercise.
This increases your stamina and overall lung capacity. Once you start sweating it out, your cholesterol levels begin to normalize and your blood pressure attains a steady and healthy level.
The release of endorphins, as mentioned earlier, de-stresses your body. This is especially important because most cardiac arrests are triggered by a stress-wrought body.
3. Pain, Pain, Go Away
Chronic pain affects almost a 100 million Americans today.
Step out of the USA, and you will find 1.5 billion people who are victims of chronic pain worldwide. It is one of the leading causes of disability and leads up to 77% of patients into the dreary traps of depression and sleep disruption.
And almost 1/3rd of all the chronic pain sufferers complain of knee and back pain. Not to mention, it is costing a loss of more than $300 billion worldwide in terms of loss of productivity.
Meanwhile, pharmacy companies are busy in discovering new drugs, in the hopes of making you a bigger pill-addict than you already are.
So how is a weekly visit to the Danceville going to help you with your aching joints?
Dancing strengthens our bones, muscles, and joints. When you dance, you are frequently moving your abdomen, back, and the spine.
The muscles surrounding comprising this area help you maintain correct posture.
Regular movements improve muscle tones and strengthen your core. Your spine feels more fit and flexible and so does the surrounding muscles.
Your hips, thighs, and calves – all receive a regulated dosage of movement which is imperative for keeping them toned and pain-free.
Dance styles such as Belly dancing, Waltz, Zumba Gold, and Jazzercise increase joint and muscle fluidity without putting them through sudden impacts.
This is especially beneficial for the aging crowd which majorly suffers from arthritis and osteoporosis.
Studies have shown that even once or twice a week visit to dance classes brought down the pain-meter by 53% in arthritis patients.
Regular dancing improved overall balance and coordination and resulted in increased muscular endurance for the patients.
If you aim for a well-toned muscle mass and get naturally rid of chronic body pain, join a dance class today.
4. The ultimate social-network
Yes, we know you have thousands of Facebook friends and hundreds of followers on Instagram and Twitter.
But how many of those people do you see or talk to on a daily basis? When was the last time you socialized with them and had fun? Do you even remember meeting them in the past 12 months?
Well, don’t feel bad.
You are not alone. Loneliness and isolation, like the rampant global warming, is a tragic consequence of our modern lifestyle. The factor of loneliness is exponentially increasing in our youth.Roughly 10% of the youth consistently reports of feeling lonely.
We might be wired on to a booming virtual world, yet deep down we are a planet of 7 billion people who feel all lonely.
So how can dancing help you?
Join a dance class and see the surprising results.
As soon as you walk into the class, you see lots of people just like you coming together to be a part of a fun activity. You get to dance with different partners. You share a few laughs.
After the class is over, you talk to each other, learn their names, exchange numbers. And voila! You just made friends, whom you are going to meet multiple times a week in the least.
Since times immemorial, dancing has been an active ingredient of socializing.
Be it a palatial ballroom waltz or the samba-beats of the Mardi gras, dance has always brought people from all diversities together.
How does it contribute to a healthier you?
Well, an active social life and interaction with others is a definitive step in curing anxiety and depression. Those awesome dance moves go a long way in boosting your confidence and self-esteem. People who are haunted by the idea of public-speaking or shy and withdrawn in general, feel positive changes in overall personality.
Talk to any dancer and you will know why they are called the friendliest people on earth. Moreover, studies have shown that couples who dance together have much lower stress-levels and tend to live longer and happily together.
Dancing gives you the creative outlet which your 9-to-5 desk job has sinfully robbed of. The regular endorphin release and increased social contacts bring down stress and anxiety levels substantially.
5. Burn the dance floor (and those calories too!)
While for most people shedding those extra pounds can be the most unsolvable problem of calculus, in reality, it is the easiest math problem ever.
Burn more calories than you consume and you are on your way to the dream swimsuit body. Science says that burning roughly 3,500 calories weekly will help you shed 1 pound of weight.
We didn’t think so either.
The fact with burning those 3,500 calories is that it isn’t easy to achieve.
For a majority of us, getting ready for a long-term committed relationship with weight-loss and fitness is equivalent to becoming the legendary boxer “Rocky”.
And frankly speaking, those things happen only in movies. So, you bury yourself under your blankets, shamelessly devouring last night’s pizza while you wait for your high-cholesterol triggered untimely death.
All because you found it too burdensome and taxing to step out and go for a jog.
Well, here is where dancing comes to your rescue again.
Replete with high-intensity moves and overall aerobic work-out, dance is the only way to enjoy melting fats.
The upbeat music and inherent variations such as Zumba, Salsa, and Tango will keep you hooked for all those sweaty 60 minutes.
Dancing can burn anywhere from 430 to 540 calories per hour. The good news is, the more you weigh, the more calories you burn.
Regular dancing will keep your calories in check and enhance overall flexibility. So, if you are looking for a fun way to lose those flabs fast, hit that dance floor.
A smart brain, a healthy heart, a well-toned body, and a stress-free mind – dancing is the ultimate passport to all these and more.
Who doesn’t want to experience this gift of eternal youth and vitality? Aren’t you one of them?
So wait no more, grab those dance shoes and pump up those beats.
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