I have always thought dancers looked younger than their actual age. Maybe it’s because they live an active lifestyle. I think there is something special about dancers in general. Could it be because the music? Could it be because the feeling that it brings to the dancers while they are dancing?
I don’t have scientific data to backup my hunch; however, there a few studies that have shown benefits and improvements in different areas of the human body.
Dancing improves your brain
We’re not talking about mental health anymore, this one is about the physical, gray, lumpy stuff that is your actual brain. As you age, the connective tissue in your brain, the white matter, tends to break down. It’s all part of the natural aging process, but that breakdown does lead to things like taking longer to process thoughts and having a more difficult time retaining short-term memories. A study in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience has shown that dancing can help slow that breakdown. Dancing will literally prevent aging!
Dancing helps with social connection
When you’ve lived in a cave for as long as I have, you sometimes forget that occasional social interaction is actually something that most humans find necessary to survive. Watching Netflix does not count, even if the people being portrayed are technically humans.
According to a study by the University of Oxford, dancing with a stranger can provide your brain the same stimuli as speaking with that person and finding commonalities and shared experiences. All without actually having to say a word to the other person.
The study also noted the prevalence of touching in dancing and said that that also helps. The study’s authors hypothesize that because touch is one of the first senses in infancy we use to develop connections, that continues to hold a powerful sway on our mental well-being and interpersonal connections even as we grow older.
There are so many benefits to dancing. Yet the one thing that holds most of us back is being self-concious about it. Don’t be. I’m a terrible dancer. You’re a terrible dancer. And good dancers aren’t judging either of us. So dance at home, dance in the streets, dance at a concert, dance alone, dance with somebody. You’ll be a happier, healthier person for it. I promise.