I recently stayed in someone else’s house for a couple of weeks whilst I helped with a project there. I got the pleasure of being a part of their everyday life and seeing how they lived, which was an eye-opening experience. The one thing which really stuck and has translated into all of my mornings now was… the Three Song Dance Parties. My host would wake up every morning, turn on Spotify, randomly swipe the screen, press shuffle, and dance to whatever came on. No rules. No expectations. No mistakes. It was just freedom of movement and the allowance to express yourself… and it was wonderful. I loved it. I loved the uncertainty, the randomness, the movement, the waking up of my body, and the mood it put me in.
So I decided to keep doing it.
It’s now been about three weeks and I’ve been dancing every day after my yoga practice. Every morning has a little Three Song Dance Party, and it really has made a huge impact on my life.
- Mood: I wake up groggily a lot of the time and have to heave myself out of the bed with the sorry attitude of having to ” take on ” the day. Dancing helps to lighten the mood and put me in a space to be excited for the day to come and to awaken a positive attitude within me, especially if I end up landing on the “Morning Motivation” playlist.
- Energy: It’s a strange phenomenon when something which takes energy to preform actually energizes you more fully! This is exactly what dancing does for me. If I wake up without a lot of energy, often all it takes is a short dance and I’ll feel like my energy levels have doubled. It’s quite incredible and worth it for the boost of energy which lasts the whole day.
- Exercise: Depending on the song, I can end up dancing wildly for 15 minutes until I’m completely out of breath. Or I can end up slow dancing around my room in a dreamy relaxed state. But either way, it helps to get my muscles moving and wake up my body.
But I did also wonder if any of this was scientifically backed up at all. It turns out that dancing has been shown to help with overall well-being in several studies.
One of the most comprehensive that I found, was this study published in the Arts & Health Journal, which links dancing with all the four major aspects of well-being: physical, mental, social, and spiritual components of health. Examining 475 non-professional dancers, the study found that dancing gave them up to 6% higher bone mass than non-dancers. They experienced better socializing, relating to others, and getting involved. They also reported that they felt higher levels of self-esteem and had more respect for their own bodies than the control subjects who didn’t dance. Not to mention the positive methods it provided them with for dealing with unpleasant situations or emotions.
Another study found that regular dance classes helped to improve the cognitive function of older Latino people. They had improved episodic memory (that is, a memory of personal time-lined events) and were able to recall things with greater accuracy. So this could be an important form of therapy in the future for people with illnesses affecting their long-term memory. Not only that, the impressive benefits carried through to all areas of their cognition.
There are dozens of other studies on the connection between dancing, health, and different ailments and illnesses. There are studies exploring the effects on dementia, stress, and overall happiness. It only takes a few minutes out of your day, and believe me when I say that those minutes are 110% worth the time that is taken. So pop on some tunes tomorrow and if it a try. Maybe it doesn’t fit with you, but it might just change things for the better… You may just become hooked, as I was! But whatever comes of giving it a go, dancing with no rules or expectations is always a good idea.
Photo: Tobias Tullius via Unsplash; Diego Rosa via Unsplash