I took my first dance class when I was about four years old. I’ve seen video footage of this, and it basically involved me stomping my feet and singing along to ‘Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree’ while pointing enthusiastically at my neck.
Anyway. From that ripe young age, I have found that there is no other form of exercise that brings me quite as much joy as a dance class does. While the world of dance is not without its problems, there is no denying that for those who enjoy the practice of learning to move their bodies to music, there is nothing else quite like it. And because I’ve recently rediscovered the joy of dance after a couple of years away from it, I thought it might be worth looking into what’s so good about it – from a physical and mental perspective.
Here are some reasons you too may like taking dance classes, according to science and my own personal experience.
3 reasons you should try a dance class
It’s a genuinely good workout:
The kind of workout you get when taking on a dance class will depend on the kind of dance you do. A ballet lesson is going to be wildly different to a salsa class, for example. But as a general rule, dance is considered an aerobic workout, which should get your heart rate moving, and it also uses muscles you may not otherwise engage during workouts – so it can help with building strength, too.
Spend a few minutes doing calf raises, and you’ll know what I mean.
Often, there’s a strong connection to stretching in class as well, which builds flexibility, so you’re getting quite a well-rounded session. According to Better Health, dance classes are also connected to better balance (a solid core will help with that) and improved bone strength.
Learning dance moves can be great for your mood:
I’ll speak from personal experience here first. When I am in a dance class learning choreography, there is no space in my brain for any other thoughts. And as someone who often struggles with anxiety, this temporary quiet is incredibly soothing. If I’m at the gym my brain will be whirring the entire time, but a dance class can interrupt the noise.
The best part is that every time I finish a class, I feel happier than before I began.
And it appears that I’m not alone in this.
Psychologist Kelly McGonigal, PhD, spoke with Oprah Daily about the benefits of dance class for your mental health and explained that it can improve your mood significantly.
“When you begin moving, you immediately release the brain chemicals dopamine, adrenaline, and endorphins, causing a powerful and lasting effect I call ‘energized optimism,’” she told the site.
“The adrenaline makes you feel powerful, the dopamine generates hope, and the endorphins bring you joy. You’ve created this amazing cocktail that boosts your mood and energy, leads you to experience better social interactions, makes you more likely to progress on your goals, and lowers stress.”
Listen, it could be argued that going for a run is another mood-boosting form of exercise. I’ve felt similar benefits from a quick jog, sure. But with a dance class, there is the added element of social interaction.
While it’s not a team sport, per se, if you’re learning moves as a group and dancing them out together, there is a sense of bonding that comes with that (irrespective of your experience level). And if you choose a partnered type of dance then you have to meet other people because you’re dancing with them.
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