Dance is a healthy way to keep physically active and also express one’s emotions. It is a therapeutic technique that has been integrated into schools, hospitals, and psychiatric wards. Today, not even crutches or wheelchairs necessarily prevent someone from participating in dance. It is a great outlet for brain fitness. It wakes up the body and mind, as students have to remember steps and think creatively. Movement is also key to learning. Dance that is integrated into education teaches children decision-making and cooperation. Some children learn kinesthetically and through hands-on experiments, making dance the perfect model of learning. Dance fosters participation and stimulation in an artistic, fun environment. It enhances physical activity with its various health benefits. It makes dancers feel a deep sense of accomplishment and enjoyment.

The human body, the primary medium for dance, can communicate the ideas, beliefs, and practices of a culture through the expressive language of movement and can increase the level of physical fitness through physical activity. Dance is a form of exercise than many people can enjoy throughout life. Understanding the power of dance for health and healing has become important for the prevention, management, and treatment of many health conditions. The use of dance as a healing tool is known as “dance movement therapy”. Kinesthetically connecting body, mind, and spirit has expanded the worldview of dance to include prevention and management of chronic diseases, mental illnesses, and physical disabilities.

Among breast cancer survivors, the incidence of breast cancer recurrence and death was 26 to 40 percent lower in women with the highest physical activity levels. The aerobic fitness component of dance improves the strength and efficiency of the cardio respiratory system and reduces excess body fat, which plays a major role in the increased risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

Dance is a viable means to incorporate physical activity into the lifestyle of many who may find traditional forms of exercise unmotivating. Moderate physical activity reduces the risk of colon cancer by fifty percent. Exercise plays a pain-relieving role in arthritis, and it is considered an essential component in arthritis management. Flexibility can maintain and improve muscular strength and endurance, which, in turn, improves the full functional range of motion, physical function, and activities of daily living. Many dance exercises, especially floor work, are designed to improve core strength, the area from which all movement emanates. Core training increases balance, coordination, and controlled movement, and reduces poor posture and lower back pain. The use of dance to promote a healthy lifestyle among young people, including those with chronic conditions, has evidence to support its widespread use in intervention programs. For example, in clinical settings, the use of dance as a holistic treatment for children and adolescents with cancer has been proven to foster coping with stress and psychological adjustment.

Physically active persons were also found to have a lower risk of Alzheimer’s Disease in later life. Dance-based aerobic exercise have been shown to be effective in decreasing the risk of falling women ages 72 to 87 by improving balance, locomotion, and agility.

Dance movement therapy has been successfully used by residential treatment center employees in charge of retraining children in the mental health system who demonstrated chronic maladaptive behaviour. Integrating dance movement therapy techniques proved useful in stress reduction and injury avoidance.

Dance builds confidence, socialization skills, and is a means of communicating emotions and one’s thoughts through movement. It is a form of artistic freedom as well as a great physical activity that maintains good health. It builds strength, flexibility, endurance, balance, coordination, and releases endorphins. Endorphins are among the brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters, which function to transmit electrical signals within the nervous system. In addition to decreased feelings of pain and stress, secretion of endorphins leads to feelings of happiness, modulation of appetite, and enhancement of the immune system.

[Information retrieved from: Ward, S. (2008). Health and the power of dance: more than art and more than fun, dance can improve one's health. The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, 79 (4).]

A video of Mark Ballas explaining why dance is good for the general public and how it benefits the entire body.

A video of Ashley Bouder explaining why she dances from a professional point of view.