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Lane Anderson, Psychology Today Magazine
Dancing can relieve stress, boost self-confidence, improve concentration, even reverse depression
Americans have become a nation of armchair dancers, mesmerized by "Dancing with the Stars" and "So You Think You Can Dance." But research shows that getting a groove on yourself is more beneficial--improving social skills, lifting your spirits, even reversing depression.
In a recent study at the
In a recent German study of music and partner dancing, 22 tango dancers had lower levels of stress hormones and higher levels of testosterone after dancing with partners, and they felt sexier and more relaxed.
In a study done at the
The physically expressive nature of dance also helps people release and thereby recognize pent-up feelings, the first step to dealing with them.
"Depressed patients tend to have a curved back, which brings the head down so it's facing the ground," says Donna Newman-Bluestein, a dance therapist with the
GET A MOVE ON
Even if you haven't strapped on dance shoes since seventh-grade etiquette class, you can gain the benefits of moving to music. Here are some options for getting started:
Dancing with Yourself
You can use dance to free your inner Beyonce and improve your concentration, simply by moving to music at home.
"Getting a beat going in your body can get you out of a disorganized fog," says Karen Bradley, professor of dance at the
"If you can walk, you can do the Argentine tango," insists Pinniger, who admits that some concentration and improvisation are required. But, she says, the effort pays off because it forces the brain to take a break from negative thinking. "It gives you hope that you can control the thoughts elsewhere, too."
Join the Dance Crew
Research shows that moving with others expands your sense of self and of social connectedness. No macarena at a bar mitzvah in your future? Join a group class. Start with a form of dance in line with your personality to facilitate learning. Super structured and orderly? Try ballet. Expressive or assertive? African dance. Playful? Zumba.
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