If you been to any type of party, social gathering, had some type of dance lesson, or have a background in dance, then you know the feeling that being on the dance floor, a stage, or in a class taking lessons, then you know great it feels to be in those places.
As it turns out, there is a scientific reason for this and there's a way we can use it to not only improve mental health but overall brain function. So, burning calories and keeping fit are just some of the many benefits of dancing. Dancing also helps improve the blood flow to the brain giving it the glucose and oxygen it needs to function.
So how does the ballet brain differ from the average brain? It's simple.
A recent study done by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine was published in the New England Journal of Medicine and it shows that dance is the best exercise to improve a person's cognitive skills. The results of the study showed that 76% of the patients who danced had lesser signs of dementia.
Other benefits of dancing for the brain include a boost in mental capacity as well as the reduction in depression and stress levels.
There is also another mechanism that further improves the mental acuity of a dancer or an individual who is learning how to dance. Psychiatrist Dr. Joseph Coyle of the Harvard Medical School, explains how the hippocampus and the cerebral cortex – both of which play a role in dancing – are rewired and improved when in use all the time. Both of these – which are used in decision making – give way for the neural paths to better transmit information.
And it's not just the elderly who can benefit from this research, young adults and children can too. Swedish researchers also conducted a study on 100 teenagers; where half of them danced and the other half didn't. The ones that did dance showed a boost in their overall mental health and mood even after they had ended the classes.
Besides developing coordination, dance is also another way to develop social skills and become more connected.
Dancing has both long-term and short-term benefits. For example, dancers can sometimes learn or discover things more easily because of how often they are learning new things and many have an excellent memory. In addition to this, they become good workers because of their discipline and self-motivation. They have grown accustomed to knowing that something won't just come overnight and that they have to work for it.
I started ballet at the young age of two to help with my coordination after undergoing heart surgery. Dance not only helped me gain strength but it helped me learn discipline, improved my cognitive process and helped me learn muscle memory. It helped shape the person I became today.