As a tween and teen, I LOVED to dance. I could dance to all kinds of music, with all kinds of people, in all kinds of places. Dancing was part of me. I wasn’t necessarily good at it – but I have some basic rhythm. We did the bump, the hustle, the slide. Soul Train and American Bandstand were favorites.
Then, I entered the convent and all dancing stopped.
After leaving the convent, it took a little while for me to feel totally comfortable – but I began to love dancing again. Nothing like a night out on the dance floor. Then, quickly, along came marriage and children – and dancing became more homebound.
When my children were little, I would hold dance parties in the living room. But, alas, my children didn’t fall in love with dancing (or roller skating or ice skating).
Now, I’m not one to go out dancing – I would rather avoid the expense and the drunken fools often found in clubs, etc.
But housecleaning happens twice as fast when I blare music throughout the house (or in my iPod if others are home) and sweep, scrub, and fold to the beat. And I often grab 2 or 5-lb. weights and an aerobic step, turn on my workout playlist and dance around the room with no set routine – just following how the music moves me. And I look forward to the ocassional wedding or fundraising event that promises an opportunity to dance.
Body: Dancing is exercise.
Dancing certainly burns calories and gets the heart pumping!
Mind: Dancing is mind-altering.
If you’ve watched earlier episodes of Grey’s Anatomy you’ll recall the dance-offs of Meredith and Yang. In the new tv show The Village the main character and her daughter (haven’t quite caught their names) have dance-offs. Dance relieves stress and helps you forget your troubles. On top of that, when you return to your ‘problems,’ you’ll likely have a fresh look and new ideas for dealing with them.
According to an article in Psychology Today, which I pulled up to provide a bit of authority for what I know experientially, “proteins are produced within brain cells that spur the growth of new neurons and new cell connections, literally making minds more supple.”
Spirit: Dancing increases happiness and sparks empathy.
We’ve all heard how physical activity release endorphins and produces a ‘high’ or ‘euphoria.’
“As a general rule, moving to music activates the brain’s pleasure circuits. ‘On a physiological and psychological level, humans like order and form, and the rhythm of dancing to music provides that satisfactory patterning.’ “
Did you know too, that dancing promotes empathy – even just watching someone else dance?
“MRI scans show that watching someone dance activates the same neurons that would fire if you yourself were doing the moves. So when one dancer’s movement expresses joy or sadness, others often get to experience it as well, spreading feelings and fostering empathy.”