Dance your way to Everyday Resilience

Happy Couple Dancing

Dancing and Everyday Resilience

I recently discovered that dancing not only improves your Everyday Resilience, it also helps you Age Successfully.

Believe me, no one was more surprised than I to discover that dance is such a powerful lifestyle intervention!

Upon reflection I should have anticipated that dancing can have a huge positive impact on your everyday resilience. After all, dancing has engaged the human body, mind, and spirit – strengthened social ties and cohesion – and has served as a primary form of spiritual and emotional expression across human cultures for thousands of years.

However, this begs the question: Why is dancing so good for you?

Body

To begin with, dancing requires aerobic fitness, mobility, and high levels of co-ordination.

This combination of physical skills helps long-term dancers preserve their posture, balance and motor skills well into old age 1. Moreover, multiple studies have shown that dancing improve your endurance, strength and flexibility, balance and agility, motor skills, and posture 2,3.

Finally, the analysis of seven independent studies showed that dance interventions increase the cardiovascular fitness of older adults 4.

Because cardiovascular fitness reduces your chance of dying young, dancing helps you live longer. In addition, the health benefits of dancing will help you enjoy those extra years of life free from the burden of physical disability.

Mind

Of course, dancing is much more than mere aerobic exercise.

For starters, dancers learn ever-more-complex movement patterns. These movement patterns are performed in time to music, demanding rhythm and musical appreciation. Further, dancing with a partner requires anticipation, synchronization, spatial awareness, and (hopefully) some spontaneous creativity!

These are likely the reasons why dancing is a superior form of physical activity for improving and maintaining cognitive ability.

Not convinced? Then please consider the classic study by Buschke and Colleagues, which examined the link between leisure activity and the risk of dementia.

Here, the Author’s found that dancing was the only form of physical activity that reduced the risk of dementia 5! Notably, other physical pursuits such as walking, cycling, swimming playing team sports, and participating in group exercise had no such protective effect against cognitive decline 5.

Moreover, the idea that dance preserves cognitive function gained further support when dance interventions were shown to improve attention switching, cognitive flexibility, reaction time, and performance on cognitive tests 3.

Furthermore, the recent analysis of thirteen independent studies shows that dancing interventions have a significant positive effect on overall cognition 6.

Thus, dancing improves your cognitive function and protects you from dementia as you age.

Spirit

In addition to strengthening your body and fortify your mind, dancing also provides spiritual support.

For example, dancing has been shown to increase life satisfaction, improve mindfulness, reduce anxiety, and strengthen emotional wellbeing 3.

Furthermore, women who participate in belly dancing experience improved body image and self-acceptance 7. This is particularly true for older women, who report that belly dancing significantly improves their emotional and psychological self-image 7.

Community

Your social network is arguably your most important asset for improving your resilience and aging well.  The good news is that dance, being an intrinsically social activity, has a large and positive effect on your social support network.

Dance participation improves your social skills and increases your engagement with social activities, which widens your social network 3. This in turn improves your everyday resilience and increases your chance of aging successfully.

Take Home Message

Hopefully, if you’ve read this far, you’re at least intrigued by the idea that dancing can dramatically improve your life.

To briefly re-iterate, independent studies have shown that dancing can improve your body, strengthen your mind, nurture your spirit, and expand your social network.

And let’s not forget that dancing is also fun!

For these reasons, I argue that dancing should be near the top of your to-do list in 2021 and beyond.

Please click on the link below to download your free PDF.

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Dance You Way To Everyday Resilience

References and Further Reading

1          Kattenstroth, J. C., Kolankowska, I., Kalisch, T. & Dinse, H. R. Superior sensory, motor, and cognitive performance in elderly individuals with multi-year dancing activities. Front Aging Neurosci 2, doi:10.3389/fnagi.2010.00031 (2010).

2          Keogh, J. W., Kilding, A., Pidgeon, P., Ashley, L. & Gillis, D. Physical benefits of dancing for healthy older adults: a review. J Aging Phys Act 17, 479-500, doi:10.1123/japa.17.4.479 (2009).

3          Sheppard, A. & Broughton, M. C. Promoting wellbeing and health through active participation in music and dance: a systematic review. Int J Qual Stud Health Well-being 15, 1732526, doi:10.1080/17482631.2020.1732526 (2020).

4          Rodrigues-Krause, J., Farinha, J. B., Krause, M. & Reischak-Oliveira, Á. Effects of dance interventions on cardiovascular risk with ageing: systematic review and meta-analysis. Complementary Therapies in Medicine 29, 16-28 (2016).

5          Verghese, J. et al. Leisure Activities and the Risk of Dementia in the Elderly. N Engl J Med 348, 2508-2516, doi:10.1056/NEJMoa022252 (2003).

6          Meng, X. et al. Effects of dance intervention on global cognition, executive function and memory of older adults: a meta-analysis and systematic review. Aging Clinical and Experimental Research 32, 7-19 (2020).

7          Moe, A. M. Sequins, sass, and sisterhood: an exploration of older Women’s belly dancing. Journal of Women & Aging 26, 39-65 (2014).

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Disrupted sleep increases anxiety and depression. Yoga Nidra is an effective method that has helped many people overcome insomnia.

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