Dancing bolsters physical and mental health. Find out the key benefits of bringing dance into your life.

Dance is a fun activity that sharpens the mind, increases aerobic power, strength and flexibility, builds social bonds, and can reduce pain, stiffness and anxiety.

Recent findings suggest that dance offers double the benefits of other types of physical activity, due to the sensory and motor circuits that are engaged while moving our bodies to music, which simultaneously activates our brains reward centres. Here are some of the key benefits of dancing regularly for adults.

Stress Reliever

Dancing allows people to focus on something outside of themselves for a while, consequently, relieving pain and anxiety and reducing stress levels. Flamenco embraces the expression of positive and negative emotions, helping us channel our emotions and develop self-expression.

Balance

As you learn and develop your skills, your posture, balance, coordination and spatial awareness will gradually begin to improve, making each step easier for you to complete.

Memory

Picking up choreography can seem like a brain teaser. Interpreting which arm, which leg, which direction even, can lead to legs and arms everywhere except for the very position they should be in. Learning and executing dance steps activates different pathways in the brain that allow us to problem solve and memorize tasks in additional ways.

Dance has been found to be so beneficial in fact, that it is now being used as part of treatment for people with Parkinson’s disease and is being recommended more and more to help stave off dementia as we age. It has also been shown to improve executive function and long term memory.

Empowerment

The way we move and carry ourselves changes the way we feel inside. The strong presence of flamenco dancers comes from their posture and attitude. Pride and presence are characteristic of flamenco. The straight-backed posture, the open chest and pulled back shoulders along with the strong focus are all part of the flamenco spirit.

La Chana, in the trailer of this documentary, flamenco dancer La Chana explains what it is like to feel flamenco when you are dancing. This legendary artist was renown for the purity and intensity in her dancing, where the emotions informed the movement and the rhythm.

Pain Threshold

Flamenco dancers are de facto hand, body and foot percussionist. Much like drumming, the active creation of rhythms elevates pain threshold and positive affect. The rhythmic energy produced as you feel the rhythm in your body and around you and enjoy yourself helps promote the production of endorphins and endogenous opiates. These are morphine-like painkillers generated by the body to help control pain, boost our immune system and assist in releasing emotional trauma.

Mental Health

Dance can help ease symptoms of depression and anxiety by releasing certain chemicals in your brain. It also provides a way to escape repetitive negative thoughts and worries. These are thoughts that run through your mind over and over.

 

Confidence Booster

Dancing is a performing art, therefore performances are often considered to be highlights of a dancer’s experience each year. Though the thought of rehearsals, costumes, and dancing for a large audience may seem overwhelming at first, participation in these is an incredible opportunity that harvests a variety of benefits for both the dancers and friends. These include setting and achieving goals, building relationships with your class mates through teamwork, overcoming shyness and overall, creating beautiful memories. Student showcases and performances are optional and not mandatory, as some adults prefer not to perform.

Above dance students of Flamenco Dance School Maria Osende performing as part of the school’s annual Summer Showcase (Halifax Central Library, June 2019) Β© Jon James Photography

Calorie Burn

The fast pace and dynamic, explosive moves of flamenco boost heart rate and stamina. Compared to other dance styles, flamenco offers a highly rhythmic, vigorous and lively technique. According to estimates from β€œFitness Magazine,” an hour of flamenco dancing burns about 290 calories. Your burn may vary based on your body weight and the intensity of your workout.

Osteoporosis prevention

Flamenco is amongst the recommended activities for people suffering from osteoporosis. The low intensity oscillations created by the footwork and generated through the controlled tapping in the long bones, 10-60 Hz, is beneficial for bone density and bone quality.

 

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