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Dancing is a fun and great way to break a sweat. Regardless of your rhythm (or lack thereof), dancing boasts many benefits, and it may also be a vital tool in addressing the mental health crisis. A meta-analysis of over 200 studies has compared the effects of exercise on depression and found that dancing produced the best outcomes.

Dancing and Depression: What’s The Link

The study, published in the British Medical Journal, analyzed the results of 218 unique studies to identify which kind of exercise best treats major depressive episodes, either alongside or instead of prescription antidepressants, psychotherapy, and other treatments.

The study included 14,170 total participants, and researchers found that all types of exercise led to moderate improvements in depression symptoms. Results showed that walking, running, strength training, yoga, and mixed aerobics produced results that were as effective as cognitive behavior therapy, or CBT, a common treatment for depression.

That said, dancing was found to be the most effective form of exercise in improving mental health, as it consistently improved the symptoms of depression. Based on the findings, dance appears to be a promising treatment for depression, with large effects found compared with other interventions in the review.

However, the small number of studies, low number of participants, and biases in the study designs don’t allow for recommending dance more strongly.

Exercise for a better mood

Research suggests that women are twice as likely to experience depression as men. While exercise can help alleviate some symptoms, the study was designed to promote additional treatments alongside SSRIs and CBT.

“Globally there has been an attempt to reduce stigma associated with seeking treatment for depression. Exercise may support this effort by providing patients with treatment options that carry less stigma.”

Longevity Benefits of Dancing

Beyond improving your mental health, dancing boasts several health benefits that are so good that you’ll always want to be swaying on your feet.

1. Improved cardiovascular health

With heart disease being the leading cause of mortality worldwide, we must find ways to mitigate our risk, and one way may include putting on our dancing shoes.

One study noted an association between dancers and a 46% reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular death, compared to individuals who never or rarely dance.

2. Improved balance and strength

Dancing is a great form of fitness because it allows for movements on almost all planes of motion and from all directions. You are more likely to use all of your muscles in dancing, unlike walking or cycling, which can then help you build more strength.

As we age, our balance is affected, and this is why some elderly people are unsteady on their feet and face a heightened risk for falls. That said, these very people may benefit greatly from dancing, as it can help them with their balance and coordination.

For instance, one study done on people over the age of 80 years found that social dancing helped them improve their balance and walking speed, as well as contributing to a more stable walking pattern.

3. Agility and flexibility improvement

Lack of movement can cause stiffness and create discomfort in your daily life, but dancing can help massively with this issue.

According to one study, a group of cross-country skiers who had received a few months of dance training showed massive improvements in their joint mobility and muscle flexibility of the spine. They also experienced improvement in their speed and agility.

In a similar, separate study, cross-country skiers who received pre-season dance training noted an improved range of hip motion, enhanced spine flexibility, and a reduced risk of back pain.

4. Weight loss and maintenance

If you don’t already know, dancing is a form of aerobic exercise, which according to the American Diabetes Association, can support weight loss or maintenance.

5. Stronger bones and reduced risk of osteoporosis

When it comes to improving bone mass, you want to be doing weight-bearing exercise, which dance is! According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, high-impact, weight-bearing exercises, such as certain forms of dance, can help to maintain bone strength and even build new bone mass. This slows down the development and progression of osteoporosis.

If high-impact dancing isn’t for you due to having bad knees, low-impact dancing is also beneficial for maintaining muscle and bone mass, which decreases as we age.

6. May reduce dementia risk

Dancing in a group or with a partner can be seriously beneficial regarding memory problems. One study found that out of 11 different types of exercise (including dance, swimming, golf, cycling, tennis, and others), dance was the only one associated with a lower risk of dementia for people who took part in the study.

According to experts, the study’s findings were a result of the combination of social interaction and mental focus that took place while dancing.

What’s more, a separate study noted that dancing can increase the amount of white matter in the brain, which is an area of the brain that can break down as a person ages, contributing to cognitive decline.

Bottom line

Dancing can be a great tool to incorporate into your daily life, especially because it has amazing benefits for both the brain and the body. If you’re struggling with low mood, why not grab your dancing shoes, put on a great song and sweat it out?


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How Exercise Affects Your Brain | Scientific American

Exercise and the Brain: The Neuroscience of Fitness Explored – Neuroscience News

Benefits of Dance: 8 Benefits for Adults and Kids (

Benefits of Dance: How Dancing Can Boost Your Brain and Body (

Tamlyn Bingle

Tamlyn Bingle

With an ever growing interest and appetite for sustainability, Tamlyn Bingle is an ambitious writer, her objective is to always share knowledgeable and insightful information in the written space. Tamlyn also enjoys living a healthy and active lifestyle, appreciative of nature and all creatures great and small.


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