Why dance?

What dance does for your health

Via Harvard Medical School

The evidence for the health benefits of exercise is indisputable. Physiologic studies have demonstrated that regular activity builds muscle and bone, reduces fat, increases aerobic capacity, lowers blood pressure, and improves the ratio of "good" to "bad" cholesterol. Dance has been shown to have all the benefits of other forms of exercise.

Moreover, by incorporating music, dance may have benefits beyond those of exercise alone. Music stimulates the brain's reward centers, while dance activates its sensory and motor circuits. Dancing has improved balance, gait, and quality of life in people with Parkinson's disease and related movement disorders. And several — but not all — studies have indicated that mastering dance movements and patterns yields greater improvements in memory and problem-solving than walking does.

Dr. Lauren Elson is a former professional dancer who specializes in sports and rehabilitation medicine at Harvard-affiliated Spaulding Rehabilitation Network. "Dancing is accessible to everybody. People who can't stand can use the rest of their body while seated, people who have lost movement in their arms can dance with their torso and legs. It's a way to connect to your own body, to music, and to other people. It just depends on whatever your goals are. But we know that there are so many benefits of dancing — cognitive, physical, and social — that it merits consideration by everybody."