These days, people love to watch other people dancing. Competitive dance shows like So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With the Stars are dominating the world of reality television. What you may not realize, however, is that if you get off the couch and dance yourself, it’s a great way to keep your body and mind healthy. Studies show that dancing can help you lose weight, stay flexible, reduce stress, make friends, and more.

What are you waiting for? Start reaping the many health benefits of dance today.

Boost Memory

A study done by The New England Journal of Medicine found that dancing can boost your memory and even prevent the onset of dementia. Other studies have also found that aerobic exercises can reverse volume loss in the part of the brain that controls memory (the hippocampus), which tends to shrink during late adulthood. Taking the time to remember steps and the changing movements of a dance is also a great way to challenge your brain, no matter your age. Scientists have found cognitive skills such as planning and organizing also improve with an exercise like dance

Reduce Stress

A study conducted by the Journal of Applied Gerontology found that partner dance accompanied by music can relieve stress. Other studies have also shown similar results, with some indicating dance can increase levels of the hormone serotonin, which can improve your mood.

Improve Flexibilty

The movements associated with dance can increase flexibility and reduce stiffness. Don’t over-exert yourself though – even the simple stretches associated with dancing can help ease joint pain and any soreness from other more strenuous exercises.

Weight Loss

Increased movement also usually means increased weight loss. A study in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology found aerobic dancing can help you lose just as much weight as biking or jogging

Reduced Depression

A study looking at the effects of dance on patients experiencing depression found that those who participated in an upbeat group showed the least number of symptoms associated with depression and were more energetic and upbeat as a result.

The benefits of dance encompass all areas of health, including physical, mental, and emotional. Not only does it give you a way to express yourself and have fun, but it also counts toward your cardiovascular exercise minutes for the week.

So, grab a friend, join a beginner or intro class, and get moving!

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