Do you like to dance? Why or why not?

Do you dance at weddings, parties, clubs and concerts? Do you begin to boogie almost involuntarily any time you hear music? Do you move and sway when you’re in your car, stopped at a stoplight? Or, do you only dance at home? Do you swirl and whirl while you clean the sink? Do you shake a leg and cut a rug while your dog looks on suspiciously? Do you dance with your baby or cat in your arms while singing at the top of your lungs?

Do You Like to Groove?

Chances are, one or more of these descriptions above describe you and your relationship to dance. Most people dance at least sometimes, and that’s a good thing. Dance is good for your mind, body, and soul, and we all should do it more often – even if we only dance privately in the comfort of our own homes.

Research shows that dancing isn’t just good for us physically, but it is also a helpful tool to support our mental health.  And, as someone in recovery, you know by now that anything that is good for your mental health is, in turn, good for giving you strength and support on your path to addiction recovery.

If you don’t think you are good at dancing, you are not alone. However, just because you aren’t good at something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. If you are too embarrassed and apprehensive to even attempt dancing somewhere public, there’s absolutely nothing to stop you from cranking up the tunes and getting funky in your living room.

Just do it, and do it now! You may find that you are better at it than you think, and you may find that you really like it after all.

Who Likes to Dance?

According to research, one third of men and a fifth of women say that they never dance, but other Americans will dance as long as others are dancing. 8% of men and 11% of women say they are willing to get the dancing started in an environment where dancing is welcome like at a wedding or other event.

When it comes to skill, only 20% of women and 13% think they are “great” or “good” dancers, and 20% of women and 12% of men think they are “bad” or “terrible” dancers.

But here’s where it gets interesting. Despite these figures about skill, most people enjoy dancing, no matter how good or bad they thing they are at it..  97% of the people who say they are good or great dancers enjoy it, 88% of the people who consider themselves average dancers like it, and even 45% of the people who consider themselves to be bad or terrible dancers have fun when dancing.

That’s a good thing, because dancing is good for our health in so many ways.

Benefits of Dancing

The physical benefits of dance are pretty obvious. This active hobby is a great way to stay fit for people of all ages.  It can improve muscle tone, strength, endurance and fitness. It’s an aerobic activity that helps you to improve the condition of your heart and lungs, builds stronger bones and reduces the risk of osteoporosis, and supports coordination, agility, and flexibility.  Frequent dancers find that they exhibit better balance and spatial awareness and find weight management to be easier, too.

But less apparent and well known are the mental health benefits of dancing, and they are numerous. Research has shownthat dancing can boost cognitive performance, which can help you to be a more effective thinker in general and as you age.

It also challenges your brain, helping to strengthen neural pathways for other tasks. When you dance, you constantly have to adjust for balance and movement and recall different movements and patterns. This is a type of mental exercise that is difficult to achieve when sitting still, making dancing an even more valuable activity.

Furthermore, dance has emotional benefits too.  Dancing is often a social activity that can give you a chance to meet and connect with other people. It is inclusive and anyone can participate; even the disabled can move some part of their body in most cases, and dance can help them in all of the above listed ways, too.

Best of all, dancing is a mood enhancer. It’s an escape and a form of expression that encourages participation from the mind, body, and soul. This type of exercise and activity helps to reduce stress, decrease the symptoms of anxiety and depression, and boosts self-esteem.

Dance Your Way Through Life and Recovery

All of these things are helpful to people who are working on their recovery from alcohol and drug addiction.  The physical benefits will make you healthier and stronger physically, which is great, and will also give you something healthy to focus upon while breaking free of addiction. You can take dance lessons, go to dance parties or concerts, or simply dance your way around your house and yard.

The mental and emotional benefits will be even more helpful to you, though. Rebuilding neural pathways you destroyed while actively using drugs and alcohol will help you to think smarter and more effectively and will aid in your decision-making in the future.  The emotional benefits of dance will give you strength and will help you to build resilience against bad things that may come your way. High stress and anxiety and depression are all major triggers for relapse, but if you can dance your cares away you will be more likely able to shake off the negative in favor of the positive and stay on your healthy path.

If you aren’t currently a dancer, give it a shot. Put on some music and let it move you. Give it some time; not all songs will get you going, but after a while, you will surely find one that helps you get into the groove. Set aside time each day to dance, even if it’s only to one song, and once you gain a little confidence, get out there and dance with others.  You’ll be amazed at the benefits. Good luck and happy dancing!

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Resources:

https://today.yougov.com/topics/lifestyle/articles-reports/2016/11/21/third-men-never-dance

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/dance-health-benefits

https://neuro.hms.harvard.edu/harvard-mahoney-neuroscience-institute/brain-newsletter/and-brain-series/dancing-and-brain

https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/benefits-of-dance#benefits