As more and more fitness fads continue to hit the market in 2016, health advocates are scrambling to either denounce or support these health programs. Let’s be honest – many of these ‘get fit quick’ schemes run their course overtime, making it hard for someone to choose a fitness route conducive to their personal goals.
Now it’s time to go back to the drawing board for a plan of action that has proven health results. Why not choose dancing as a form of exercise? It’s a cost-effective and fun way to get in better shape with a group of friends or on your own. The health benefits of grooving on the dance floor to any type of music outlined in GloFX’s research are endless and may come as a surprise to some.
Why Is Dancing Good For Your Health?
Dancing has been proven to help treat a variety of conditions and boost your confidence and self-esteem! It can help you lose weight, strengthen and tone your body, increase stamina and flexibility, improve balance and posture, and lessen anxiety levels. Depending on your chosen dance style or form, you can actually burn an enormous amount of calories from boogying down.
There are many success stories from individuals around the world who have used dance as an activity to get in better shape. One in particular that grabbed national media attention was from a Texas woman who lost over 100 pounds with Zumba dancing (which we later expound on). During her fitness journey, she also realized that exercise and fitness were equally important. Though Zumba played a major role in her fitness program, it’s more important to find a style of dance that works best for you.
Dancing has a wide range of physical and mental benefits:
- Improves heart and lung condition
- Increases muscular strength, endurance and motor fitness
- Increases aerobic fitness
- Improves muscle tone and strength
- Helps manage weight
- Builds stronger bones and reduces risk of osteoporosis
- Enhances coordination, agility and flexibility
- Improves balance and spatial awareness
- Increases self-esteem and confidence
- Improves mental performance; general and psychological wellbeing
- Gives you better social skills
Dancing is Fast, Free and Fun
All you really need are good dance shoes, plenty of water to stay hydrated and some of your favorite jams to move to – it’s that easy. In fact, various studies have shown that dancing is good for your health, utilized by both genders as a preferred form of exercise. No matter your age, weight or experience level, dancing is a great way to get in shape.
Studies Show Music Makes You Want To Move
We all love some genre of music. Whether it’s EDM, hip-hop, rhythm and blues, or jazz, music alone produces a variety of health benefits. In fact, studies suggest that the human mind is programmed to make you want to move when hearing a good beat. “It’s an instinctive response,” says Costas Karageorghis, Ph.D., a music and sports researcher and coauthor of Inside Sport Psychology. Richard Ebstein, Ph.D., a professor in the psychology department at the National University of Singapore, says, “it’s a universal phenomenon. Even birds and bees use dance to communicate.”
Neuroscience shows that listening to music heightens positive emotions in certain brain centers; thus, activating chemicals called dopamine that result in a feeling of elation. Due to its historic role in healing and neurological reach, researchers highly recommend its usage in healthcare by helping patients during post-surgery recovery or as a form of therapy for people with Alzheimer’s. Moreover, by combining this health phenomenon with dance – the benefits are even greater.
When your favorite song comes on the radio or the DJ blasts it on the speakers in the club, it makes you want to get up and move. Sweat may trickle down your back as you show off your dance moves, making you feel a little self-conscious, but you shouldn’t. Because everyone around you is sweating, you will quickly realize that this is the norm and continue to vibe to the beat.
Once you reach the end of your night, you may have just burned more calories than you would jogging on a treadmill. That’s right, dancing is good for the heart and soul, literally!
Tarver’s Incredible Fitness Journey: A Texas Woman Who Danced Her Way To Better Health [Case Study]
Let’s take a look at a personal success story from an individual who has reaped the health benefits of Zumba dancing and turned their life around.
According to a CNN report, Roni Tarver, a Texas teacher, weighed 235 pounds and suffered from constant back pain in Fall 2012. The stress of being a new teacher and standing for long periods of time resulted in her popping 10 to 15 ibuprofen pills a day, which made it tough for her to remain in good spirits throughout her day.
Luckily, her loving husband never said anything negative about her weight to add to her emotional distress. However, this made her feel worse for not taking proper care of herself. “I really married the most sweet, wonderful, compassionate man in the world. He never made me feel bad about it, so I think I felt more guilty,” said Tarver, 29, a high-school agriculture teacher who lives in the Fort Worth, Texas.
Proven Strategies To Dance Your Way To Better Health
She also took a major step in improving her health by quitting cigarettes. But she knew that much more was required in order for her to transform her body into better shape. Tarver desired a better physique; therefore, she decided to take action in November and get moving.
“I found myself crying in bed one night over my weight, and my husband told me that he thought I was beautiful, but if I was so unhappy, I should do something about it,” Tarver wrote on CNN iReport. “This triggered something in me.”
1. Choose a fitness routine
According to Tarver, the very next day, she began monitoring her calories and walking or riding the stationary bicycle six days a week. After two months, she was brave enough to join a gym (January 2013). Soon after, she experimented with her first Zumba class, which prompted a new found joy for working out.
Tarver started sampling every evening dance class offered. As the daughter of an aerobic dance teacher, the movements didn’t come very hard. By the third week, she wanted to be there all the time, dancing to exhaustion under the club lights in the gym’s group fitness room.
“My instructors were amazing, and made me feel like they loved having me there,” she said. “I was having a blast exercising for the first time in my life.”
2. Find what works best
She eventually switched up her workout routine by supplementing classes with one to two nights working out on the elliptical machine and weightlifting.
3. Create relationships in the gym
Tarver created a close bond with one of her instructors who held her accountable for every missed session. She also offered to make Tarver a CD with all of her favorite jams.
4. Become a dance instructor
After 10 months, Tarver took her instructors advice and got certified to teach her own Zumba classes, which she began teaching shortly after receiving the credentials. “You really feel like you’re in a club, dancing with people, but you don’t have a hangover in the morning. At the end of it, you feel awesome, you’re exhausted, and you can go back and do it tomorrow if you want. It’s good for your soul, if you ask me,” Tarver said.
5. Adopt healthy eating habits
Though she managed to shred pounds from dancing, Tarver knew exercise alone wasn’t enough to really get healthy. She didn’t follow a particular diet, but stuck to a few principles. Cutting out fast food, dairy, eating a protein bar for breakfast, was a hard sacrifice she had to make. She even tracked her calories daily using an app on her phone.
After a couple of months, she allowed herself one cheat meal a week, consisting of two bacon and egg tacos from her favorite fast food chain every Tuesday. “I could drink a whole gallon of whole milk in two days. I really, really liked cheese and milk a lot,” she said. “It was difficult at first because I was so conditioned to eating cheese, but I felt better.”
Tarver went from 235 pounds in November 2012, wearing a pant size of 22 to 135 pounds within 14 months, and decreased her pant size to 6 and 21% body fat.
Her back pain was also significantly reduced and she experienced happiness once again. “I can’t believe how easy it was — how fast the weight came off when I was doing the right thing,” she said. “I’m thrilled out of my mind with my body.”
There Are Various Dance Styles To Choose From
There are many forms of dance, from ballroom to barn dancing and disco to Zumba and ballet. Dance is an integral part of human culture, ceremonies and rituals. Today, most dancing is about recreation and self-expression, although it can also be done as a competitive activity. Generally, dancing is an enjoyable way to be more physically active and stay fit.
No Excuses For a Sedentary Lifestyle
Let’s face it – most of us lead very busy lives to the point where we tend to place little focus on our own well-being.
You may have had a long week of putting in extensive hours at the library for school or even a 9 to 5 job where your boss is constantly down your throat. Before you know it, you’ve clocked in more than 40 hours a week between the two. On top of that, you want to make time for loved ones and friends of course, because these folks play a significant role in your life and contribute to your overall well-being.
By the same token, your time is valuable and participating in pleasurable activities is just as important to ease the tension after a long, stressful week. In addition, your schedule may be too hectic to utilize your gym membership. For some, going to the gym can be compared to visiting the dentist – it’s a dreadful experience! Especially, since many individuals have some kind of health ailment, it’s hard to find motivation to work out.
However, exercise is unarguably the best way to relieve stress while improving your overall health. What better way to kill two birds with one stone? Well we have a simple solution that may or may not surprise you – dancing!
The Science Behind Dancing Your Way To Better Health
Scientific studies have shown that this activity initializes a response similar to working out in the gym – your body releases a chemical called endorphins, which are hormones that trigger a positive feeling in the body, and can even reduce your perception of the pain from those body aches you may experience from time to time due to stress.
Dancing has also been proven as an effective form of treatment for many progressive diseases and disorders such as gait, dementia and Parkinson’s disease, to name a few.
According to research, dancing has been shown to reduce depression, anxiety, and boost self-esteem, body image, coping ability, and significantly reducing stress levels, with the benefits lasting over time. In one specific study, it even helped control “emotional eating” in women who suffer from obesity in which eating is a response to stress.
How many of those who dance realize that they are doing something positive for their brains? https://t.co/2ARcHY2hNh
— Harvard University (@Harvard) January 6, 2016
Use These 7 Quick Dance Tips For Guaranteed Results
- Visit a doctor for a physical, especially if you have a medical condition, are over 40 years old or are overweight
- Wear layered clothing you can take off as your body warms up
- Be sure to warm-up, stretch and cool down before and after a dance session
- Drink plenty of water before, during and after dancing
- Make sure you rest between dance sessions
- Don’t push yourself too far or too fast, especially if you are a beginner
- Wear appropriate shoes for your style of dance
The Health benefits of dancing in a group
Whether you enjoy dancing by yourself or in a group, it’s a great activity for all of your loved ones to participate in. Even if you can’t convince your friends to come with you to boogie down at a music festival or club, you can always foster new friendships and form meaningful relationships through group dancing with total strangers. Also the social interaction you can gain from grooving to your favorite jam in a group is priceless!
In fact, the scientific journal Biology Letters recently published a study that goes in depth about the social and physical benefits of group dancing. Through synchronized dance movements, a bonding effect is created, in turn, a sense of trust and peace is unveiled that is carried beyond the dance floor. Now the benefits of going to that concert or festival by yourself have exceeded your expectations – you have met awesome new people while achieving improved health results. In a separate study conducted by The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), 97 percent of participants chose tango class rather than mindfulness meditation as a form of therapy. (By the way, both activities were shown to reduce depression, but only dancing reduced stress levels).
The hype surrounding EDM is hard to ignore. EDM festivals are sweeping the nation and expanding the dance movement. With big acts such as Calvin Harris, David Guetta and Tiësto, electronic music’s influence has skyrocketed. EDM artists are steadily gaining more popularity, and money!
Boogie Your Way To Better Health Now
Even if you are not a social butterfly, any form of dancing is a fun way to break the ice at a rave party or music festival or club, while gaining the positive health effects. Remember, you don’t have to be a raver or partygoer to take advantage of this activity – dancing is great in almost all settings, except for at work, of course.
Based on the facts and the research presented, you can see why we advocate the implementation of dance into your fitness regime to spice things up a bit, especially those gym rats. So put on your dancing shoes, get moving and share this informative article with your friends.