Out of all the forms of exercise that I've experienced during my lifetime, dancing, by far, has given me the greatest feeling of well-being. From a graceful ballet adagé, to high-energy hip hop moves, dance never fails to leave me walking away with a feeling of elation. If you're also a fan of cutting the rug, and are curious to learn why it makes you feel so great, here are a few little insights.
1. Physical effects
Cutting a rug causes you to burn over 300 calories every half-hour, suggests a report from the University of Brighton. That is more than the amount of energy you burn during running or swimming. Nick Smeeton, the principal lecturer at the university and coauthor of this report, said that while many other sports including cycling, running and swimming, in part, rely heavily on a build up of momentum to keep you going, "there is a lot of accelerating and decelerating in dancing, which the body is less able to do in an energy efficient way" Smeeton says. Although you're not covering much ground, you're burning a load of fuel.
2. Psychological effects
A recent study, published in early 2007 in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, connected dancing to improvement in "white matter" integrity in the brain cells of senior adults. White matter can be understood as the brains' connective tissue. A tissue that has the tendency to break down as we age, leading to a reduction in processing speed, in addition to the memory and thinking problems that arise later on in life. This was suggested by Agnieszka Burzynska, an assistant professor of neuroscience at Colorado State University and the first author of the same study.
3. Social effects
Also encouraging social bonding and what psychologists call "self-other merging", in sync movement experienced with others aligns brain pathways that smudge the boundaries your mind creates between yourself and strangers, and therefore, enables you to experience a feeling of connectivity, poses a University of Oxford study.