How Dancing Influences Our Health

05/29/2020

Become a healthier version of youself, and have fun while doing it.


Photo by Marlon Schmeiski from Pexels
Photo by Marlon Schmeiski from Pexels

By: Fredrick Little

"One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight!" if you're a dancer or if you've ever had a dancing experience then you've probably heard this basic count. The eight-count is essential for keeping tempo when moving to music. It's an important tool to maximize the effect that this beautiful art form has on individuals.

In addition to the therapeutic effect, dancing possesses as a medium for expression, it also is a great form of exercise. If you're tired of running on the treadmill or other routine calisthenic exercises, you may want to give dancing a shot.


The history of dancing for exercise

Dance is an important aspect of human history. The first recorded findings of the practice stem back 9000 years in India. Most cultures have developed their own styles of dance. These have traditionally been used either for entertainment or for religious praise.

Photo by Aneesh S from Pexels
Photo by Aneesh S from Pexels

In 1969 the first dance-based fitness program was founded. Judi Sheppard Missett combined elements from hip-hop, jazz dance, kickboxing, Pilates, resistance training, and yoga to create Jazzercise. The program was a hit and reached people of all levels of fitness.

Since the founding jazzercise, there have been many successors to the program. Jazzercise still exists however other programs have received the spotlight. One thing is for certain, dancing has more than adequate potential to provide the human body with a workout. With the internet and the endless stream of information within our grasp, one may ask the question, what type of dancing should I be doing. The answer is, it's up to you and what you want to achieve.


Putting your heart into it

The rate of one's heartbeat has a strong correlation to the level of intensity in an exercise. The more intense the exercise the faster the heart generally beats. Your heart is attempting to provide your muscles with the oxygen necessary to perform whatever task you are doing.

Cellular respiration is the process of using oxygen to produce ATP energy. During exercise, the body uses this energy as a means of efficiently fueling the muscles. Depending on the fitness level of the individual the body may also use previously-stored energy from carbohydrates.

Exercise intensity operates on a range from low to high intensity. Different levels of intensity require different levels of energy consumption but provide different benefits associated with each level.


Low Intensity

Low-intensity dancing has the same calorie consumption rate as walking or light jogging. This is a great method for someone that isn't looking for any strenuous movement but wants to stay active. It is important to remember however that because the intensity is low, so is the amount of energy consumed.

Low amounts of energy consumption lead to less waste production. With that being said, low-intensity dancing can be a great way to burn a decent amount of calories as long as the individual is committed to doing so for at least an hour.

Examples

  • Waltz

  • Foxtrot

  • Rumba

Medium Intensity

This is where the bulk of most dancing lies. In addition to improving the cardiovascular health of the dancer, some styles in the medium intensity category provide other benefits. Some of these benefits include flexibility, strength, balance, and endurance.

Flexibility is an advantage as a dancer, after all, their medium for expression is their body. Flexibility increases the number of messages that they can send with their bodies. Depending on the style, strength may be extremely important. In ballet core and leg strength are essential. All balancers have exceptional balance. They use it to precisely execute their movements. Endurance is built up over time as an effect of dancing for long periods of time.

Examples

  • Ballet

  • Salsa

  • country


High Intensity

Done correctly this type of dancing can be used as a form of high-intensity interval training. As opposed to anaerobic exercise, aerobic exercise doesn't use new oxygen to power the muscles. Instead, it uses glycolysis to break down existing energy already stored in the muscles.

This type of exercise is strenuous and requires large amounts of energy because it creates lactic acid in the muscles. For this reason, high-intensity training can only be done in intervals with rest in between each set. Certified personal trainers suggest that HIIT exercises be capped at 30 minutes.

Examples

  • Hip Hop Dance

  • Swing Dance

  • Tap Dance

  • Aerobic Step

The Psychological benefits of dancing

Dancing is a form of expression. It allows us to vent our emotions through movement. In addition to improved balance, studies have shown that dancing can be used to battle depression. The same study has shown that dancing improves the cognitive functions of memory organization and planning.

Photo by Yogendra Singh from Pexels
Photo by Yogendra Singh from Pexels


Most of all dancing is a social activity. Humans are social creatures. Even introverts require certain amounts of social activity. Dancing is an activity that brings people from all walks of life together. This social interaction has a positive effect on the human brain.


Putting Gas In The tank

We are what we eat. Ultimately being healthy always points back to what we consume. Dancing is great. It can keep people at every level of fitness active, and allow them to have fun at the same time. However, it is important to eat a well-balanced diet to provide your body with the energy it requires to complete the task.