With Strictly fever once again gripping the nation, Harley Street expert Dr Khan and chartered physiotherapist Tim Allardyce, talk to TLL about the multiple physical and mental health benefits of dance.
Keeping you active
This might seem obvious but, as we get older, staying active can help us to live longer and give us a better quality of life. According to Dr Khan, the physical aspects of dance mean it is a great form of exercise for your physical health, such as heart health, as well as improving cardiovascular, motor and aerobic fitness.
The majority of dance is also low impact, so you can get your heart rate up without worrying about damaging your joints or other parts of your body that some higher impact exercise might cause.
Brilliant for bone density
Dancing is also a fantastic way to improve bone strength throughout our whole body. Tim Allardyce tells TLL that as we age, our bone density naturally starts to decrease, and some people can develop osteoporosis, a weakening of the bone. Choosing an exercise such as dancing is a great way to increase bone density and help keep bones and joints strong. It’s also excellent for flexibility, especially in the arms and shoulders, which can be prone to stiffness. Dancing encourages us to lift our arms and use rotation to improve mobility in our back and shoulders.
A balancing act
Co-ordination and balance are also greatly improved by all types of dance – disco, ballroom, street, tap, ballet. Regular dancing builds leg strength and endurance, so, along with improving our balance, it can make us less likely to trip or fall. Just be careful if you don those heels for your session on the dancefloor!
Important for mental health
Dance is also particularly beneficial for mental health and wellbeing, which is as important as looking after our physical health. Aside from releasing the ‘feel good’ endorphin hormones which can result in feelings of happiness and even euphoria, according to Dr Khan, dancing regularly is a fantastic way to reduce the risk of developing illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, later in life. The brain work and memory exercises involved in dancing keep the brain active and therefore healthy. It’s a win-win!
Reducing the risk of illness isn’t the only mental health benefit associated with dancing. The social aspect can be fantastic for everyone, particularly those who might be susceptible to feeling lonely. Meeting up with likeminded people on a regular basis is great for combatting loneliness, reducing low mood, improving confidence as well as stimulating cognitive and social skills, according to Dr Khan. And you might even discover an amazing talent you never knew you had!
Benefits researched by Dr Khan and Tim Allardyce, in collaboration with City Lit, London’s largest provider of short courses, including dance, for adults.