It seems fair to say that we have all had an experience with dance. Whether we have taken a structured class or just closed the door of our room, blasted our favorite tune and danced while no one was watching, we have all experienced the joy of being able to move.
I have a very vivid memory of my first experience with a dance class. I was incredibly shy as a child, and my parents felt this would be a great outlet for me. Of course, my parents were absolutely right, and I began taking beginner ballet and tap classes at a local studio. With time that shyness started to slowly shift away, and I became more comfortable expressing myself – so much that I often put on mini performances for my family, leaping and twirling around my home. As you can probably tell, dance has always been a part of me, from those very first moves in my living room to it now being the main focus of my career.
There is something very powerful about the wonderful feeling that sets in the second you hear the music and prepare to move. Beyond this, there are plenty of emotional benefits that may be less visible but are just as high-impact as the physical benefits of movement. Here’s my Top 5 of mind-body benefits:
- Dance stimulates many connections in your brain as you repeat steps, create patterns and explore new ways of moving your body with each step. When you take a structured dance class you are often asked to string steps together and recall these steps in a sequence. As you execute the movement and have a kinesthetic experience, you are creating new connections that, if fostered and continually utilized, will positively affect brain function and assist your memory.
- Dance develops body awareness and motor planning. The ability to understand where you are in space and in relation to other objects in the room is enhanced as you figure out how to transition from one movement to the next. We’ve all walked through a crowded room before and have experienced the need to make sudden adjustments to avoid objects or people in our pathway. You may not realize it, but the brain activity occurring as you take in all the sensory information of the environment, make these quick decisions, and plan and execute a sequence of movement is incredible, and these pathways only get better with practice.
- Dance sparks creativity. It seems that more and more people are taking dance classes as a form of exercise. In addition to the benefit of pumping and increasing blood circulation during this form of physical activity, dance also taps into your emotions as it is an art form at heart. You may be surprised at how inspired you feel after dancing and exploring movement.
- Dance is a wonderful stress reliever and can serve as an outlet. In many cases we are stressed by the feeling that there are simply not enough hours in the day to get everything done. Dance is a great way to relieve the many stressors we all experience. Dance can be a way to release those emotions and express yourself nonverbally through your movement.
- Dance is fun way to improve your balance and coordination. The vigor of a dance class not only assists in cardiovascular health, but also improves balance and coordination. Each movement enhances your ability to transfer your weight to move fluidly through the sequence and challenges your balance as well. With practice, you will improve your proprioception, which allows you to better sense your body’s position as you process the different elements of your limbs. Our receptors that receive this information peripherally can then send a signal to our central system allowing us to balance and coordinate our movement effectively.
Exposure to movement can be such a wonderful experience. These benefits – and others – are the reasons we strive to bring dance to all ages and backgrounds. Here at PBT classes, such as Adaptive Dance, Dance for Parkinson’s and Creative Movement, provide both children and adults an opportunity to dance and experience the many benefits of participating in this art form. We invite you to join us at the studios and dance with us. It’s not only an enjoyable experience, but also a rewarding and beneficial mind-body exploration.