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Attractions and benefits of dancing

Updated: Feb 20, 2023

Dancing feels great and while some societies forbid it, there isn't a culture on earth that doesn't have a desire to dance.

But how does such a simple physical act have the ability to lift spirits? Dance psychologist Dr. Peter Lovatt from the University of Hertfordshire says, “Dancing stimulates us physically and emotionally, while there are also cognitive and social elements.”

1. Happiness

“We get a much greater release of endorphins from dancing than from other forms of exercise. It also connects with the emotional centers in the brain. For many people, dancing induces an emotional release – often that is happiness, or for some it can bring tears. It's purifying because we can let go of pent-up emotions."

2. Makes you feel alive

Experiments have shown the cognitive benefits of dancing. University researchers in York and Sheffield took a group of people and sent each of them into a lab where music was played for five minutes. Each one had to choose between three options: sit and listen quietly to the music, ride an exercise bike while listening to the music or get up and dance. Plus they all received cognitive tasks to perform before and after the dance.

Results: All those who chose to dance showed better problem-solving skills after the dance. This same study also found that dancers' mood levels went up. So dancing along to music, even for five minutes, can increase happiness and improve creative thinking patterns.

3. Reduce cortisol

Dancing also improves spatial awareness, as well as increasing your heart rate and releasing good endorphins into your bloodstream. One more benefit is that it helps reduce cortisol levels – a stress hormone.

"That's another reason why it makes you feel happy and relaxed," says fitness expert Matt Roots. “And besides getting your heart and lungs pumping, there's the simple fact that dancing frees up the body and allows it to move. This something we tend to do very little of these days. Modern life often leaves us feeling disconnected from our bodies because we spend so much time sitting and connecting to technology. Dancing makes you feel good because it makes you feel so alive.”

4. Connecting with other people

Another big appeal to dancing is the social element. “Dancing has been scientifically proven to help with social bonding,” explains Dr. Lovatt. "The synchronicity involved in dancing to a beat with other people is a powerful way for human beings to connect."

“It is something that you can enjoy at any time in your life, regardless of your ability”

Ginny Brown of the Imperial Society of Dance Masters agrees. “Dancing brings people into a social space where they can work together in a mutually enjoyable activity.”

“That element of interaction can be a wonderful starting point for getting to know people. You can go to a dance class without knowing another person, and quickly discover that dancing – at any level – is a wonderful way to break down inhibitions and encourage positive interactions.”

“People have a wonderful time dancing spontaneously. Dance teachers often report that their students seem more relaxed and happy because it is an activity where you can connect with others in a way that other activities simply do not allow.”

“It's something you can enjoy at any point in your life, no matter your ability – and the range of styles is phenomenal. Dancing makes us feel good, but above all, it’s a lot of fun!”

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