Why Dancing Keeps Us Young…
How often do we see a beautiful dancer and wonder how old is he or she? They all look so good, so fit, so stylish, and so elegant! It seems that there is no age effect on them and they are dancing though their years staying young and beautiful. Or, how about seeing an incredibly glamorous lady dancing with a teacher and enjoying every movement only later do we discover that she’s over 80 years old! Dancing can be a magical activity if one uses it in a way to benefit his or her life and health. We were interested in finding out what are the keys to this fountain of youth and how every dancer can benefit from it.
While we are moving to music we get regular exercise that helps build stronger muscles, fight off chronic illnesses, and make our clothes fit better. A physical work out is like nature’s energy drink. It charges our body, mind, and spirit so we feel more alert and alive. Dancing demands a lot of energy because it involves movements in a multitude of directions. There is a lot of accelerating and decelerating movements and actions that require a lot of physical effort and activity from the body. For instance, imagine dancing Quickstep with music and enjoying elements such as the flight across the floor, skips, hops, accents, and swing actions. Or, another example would be Tango where you have a lot of staccato actions with legs flicks and quick head turns. Of course your physical activity is based on your input and how much effort you put into it but here is the first secret about dancing…when you are enjoying what you are doing you don’t notice how much physical energy you are actually outputting. Your mind stays focused on the pleasure you are receiving from dancing and you are present, in the moment, and busy with all the different details to make the dance happen. You may feel that you didn’t work out as much as you would in a gym but in reality you do. It is the pleasure factor of dancing that diminishes your physical efforts.
And, what can illustrate better years of youthful appearance as having a beautiful posture? Every practice your teacher or your partner will ask you to pay attention to your posture. This one of the first and main elements in social or professional dancing. Great posture is when your head, shoulders, ribcage, and your hips are beautifully stacked one on top of another. We like to think that it’s like having four blocks in your body and the centers of these blocks are lined up vertically. That will create a beautiful outward presentation and will also open up your energy allowing for better chi flow. While doing it in the dance studio naturally it will have an affect on your everyday life and help prevent your body’s natural desire to slouch as we age.
Flexibility is another benefit and element associated with youthful appearance and energies. When we are young we are more flexible, however, every year that passes our muscles fatigue and deteriorate and our joints become more fixed and less flexible leaving us feeling stiff and inelastic. Regular dancing practices will keep your joints loose and pliable while strengthening the muscles. We like to think that our bodies consist of a lot of spheres that constantly move and rotate in opposing directions. Those counter actions and counter rotations of these spheres help to create a beautiful seamless motion and help exercise our bodies in an incredible way.
In addition, dancing doesn’t just help to keep and develop our physical fitness and our beautiful outward appearance. It also has an incredible effect on our brain. Dancing certainly affects our mood, emotions, and our self-perception as well as our self-esteem. We may not realize it as we are dancing but it actually trains our memory, improves our cognitive senses, and helps increase brain function and activity. The reason is because as we dance our brains need to remember so many different steps, various movements and complicated amalgamations. Dancing forces us to move in different and sometimes specific directions on the floor whilst reacting to our partner’s movements and actions at the same time. Dancing also helps to continuously challenge one’s self with new elements such as new dancing steps that not only gives us great exercise for our minds and our memories but also forces our muscles to responded and retrain its innate memories.
Balance is another key factor in helping to maintain great youth and dancing is one of the best activities to train your balance. We are reacting and responding to the dancing movements and our partners all the time which has an affect on our own individual balance. It also gives our brains stimulation as it makes us make instantaneous decision of how to move our bodies in a way where we need to find a new balance in motion. We always say that one should not be afraid to loose one’s balance during the dance but instead challenge oneself to rebalance the different parts of the body to regain new balance.
Finally, last but not least, one of the most important benefits to dancing is how the dancing makes us feel. Moving one’s body to beautiful music with another partner of your choice is a feeling that no other activity can offer. Floods of dopamine, the feel good hormone, are naturally emitted throughout our bodies when we dance giving us a feeling of euphoria, lightness, and happiness. What can be more enjoyable than that?! A great feeling of movement with another person to gorgeous music is certainly a recipe for maintaining one’s youth. Adding the glamour of a beautiful dress, make up, and stylish hair for the ladies or an elegant tail suit and shiny impeccable shoes for the gentleman and you’ve got the perfect combination for the fountain of youth! Doesn’t that sound like a dream? If you are enjoying your dancing to the fullest potential you will never wake up but stay young forever!