9 Benefits Of Dancing (And Why The Convicts Danced Too)

9 Benefits Of Dancing

(And Why The Convicts Danced Too)

A blog by Mary Paterson

Dance has changed a lot since Australia’s foundational years.

But what hasn’t changed is the benefits that come with getting up and moving.

These benefits were enjoyed by our convict past, just the same way they can be enjoyed by you.

Humans have been dancing for centuries and will continue to do so many more to come. We all have that favourite jam we dance to whenever it comes on. Whether it’s shaking your head, moving to the tunes, or getting jiggy with it, dancing helps you forget everything else.

This is why it’s so good for both mental and physical health. Unknown to many, moving to the tunes of your favourite jam exercises muscles in the brain, as well as other muscles in the body.

The muscles move in harmony giving you the ‘feel good’ feeling on the dance floor, bathroom, or even in your car. With dozens of dancing styles in the world, you can choose what works for you best and enjoy dancing during your free time.

Here are some of the benefits of dancing.

Dancing in a pub in the East End of London. George Cruikshank (1821)

#1 – Dancing Promotes Good Health and Increases Strength

Dancing is one of the best forms of exercise you can indulge in.

Dancing alone helps strengthen core muscles and bones, leaving you stronger than you were initially. It is also common for people to sweat after dancing for an extended period of time. Dancing can be compared to anaerobic exercise, only that you are/will be moving to your favourite jams.

The physical health and massage team at Kneadwork Massage explain that “the increased level of mental and physical muscle activity promotes good health while preventing common health conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis. So there’s so many reasons to get moving!”


#2 – Dancing Boosts Your Memory

Dancing engages several parts of the brain hence increased neural activity. An interesting fact about dancing is that we always learn new dance moves every day.

One, however, has to remember some of these moves to be a good dancer, and to perfect the steps as well.  Taking on dancing lessons, for instance, helps you master the various dance moves which also plays a significant role in boosting your brain functions, and especially memory.

Dancing, or learning to, calls for several brain functions for rational, emotional, musical, and kinesthetic functions. All these help lower the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.


#3 – Dancing Improves Flexibility

Although you might have noticed this, dancers are more flexible than individuals that don’t engage in the activity. This is because dancing helps stretch various muscles and also promote joint and muscular flexibility.

Professional osteopaths note that one of the advantages of having a flexible body is the fact that you can do things that most people will find impossible, and most importantly, reduces the risk of injuries. Dancing tones both them muscles and joints well improving your agility over time.


#4 – Dancing Increases Balance

Dancing isn’t all about moving to the rhythm but maintaining your balance as well. Some moves and sequences demand excellent balance; otherwise you will trip and fall.

Dancers learn to balance their bodies naturally, which again helps them maintain a stronger centre of gravity. It is also with a continued appreciation of the art, and dancing even more, that your body’s ability to maintain balance is put to the test.

Your balance, posture, spatial awareness, and flexibility get better over time making you an excellent dancer.

The ball after returning from the picnic party.  Owen Stanley (1847). Courtesy of Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales. 

#5 – Dancing Promotes A Healthy Heart And Lungs

As mentioned earlier, dancing is a fun way of exercising. It is, for this reason, you will notice increased heart rate and breathing as you dance, and immediately after taking a break.

The body demands lots of energy as you dance, and the only way to avail this is through increased heart rate and respiration. Although you might not notice this first hand, your agility and strength increase as you continue dancing.

This form of exercise engages the lungs and heart even more, which promotes good health.


#6 – Dancing Is A Stress Reliever

Dancing alone can help you forget about your worries and live the moment. Sydney based counsellors explain that this is because “both the body and mind have to be in harmony while dancing. This pushes any stressors to the bay allowing you to do what you do best, dance.”

That said, turning on the music and dancing to your favourite jams would be a wise and excellent way to overcome or deal with stress. Dancing also helps lower the production of cortisol hormones as well.


#7 – Dancing Fights Depression

Dance can be used as a form of therapy to help people channel energies in the right way. This is particularly important for those suffering from stress and depression. While listening to music helps relax the mind, dancing to the tunes takes it a notch higher, thus helping you relax and fight off depression.

Dance allows you to express yourself psychologically and physically without ever having to utter a word. You can also use dance to boost your self-esteem and confidence. All you need to do is take to the dancefloor and move to the rhythm.


#8 – Dancing Promotes Weight Loss

According to research and studies published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology, dance is as effective as cycling, walking, and jogging in weight loss and body composition. Dancing not only helps boost your aerobic strength but also induces increased respiration rates that promote weight loss.

Most dancers are also mindful of what they eat, with the exercise good enough to promote weight management.


#9 – Dancing Facilitates Improved Confidence and Social Well-Being

Almost everyone loves and enjoys dancing. You don’t have to be an excellent dancer to enjoy the art. Many people will develop an interest to want to learn how to dance after seeing their friends or other people dance.

That said, dancing helps you get out of your cocoon and socialise with like-minded people. This is especially important for those with a quiet personality.

Friends, singles, and couples spend quality time moving to the beat and dancing. You don’t have to dance in your home alone.

Are you looking to learn more about the origins of dance in Australia? Find out everything you need to know here!

Dancing at the Bundanoon Dancefest.


Written by: Mary Paterson

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