Dance is an inclusive, social and holistic activity which has the power to engage individuals of all ages and improve physical, mental and social health.
Dance is inclusive and anyone can take part;
Dance can be tailored to match the physical capabilities of an individual and the cultural diversity of a population;
Dance has a myriad of physical health benefits; and
Dance is a social activity promoting a sense of well-being and social inclusion. 1
With an ageing population and a climate where governments, health organisations and health insurers are looking for answers to global health epidemics such as Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease and Dementia, Dance can play a significant role in the health and wellness of individuals, communities and the general public. Dance is perfectly positioned to support the public health sector providing proactive and cost-effective solutions to global wellness challenges.
Research shows that dance…
Improves balance and is associated with reduced risk of falls 2–5
Improves cardiorespiratory fitness 4–6
Improves strength, body agility, flexibility 4
Decreases Body Mass Index (BMI) 7
Improves mood 8 and
Induces neuroplasticity 9 and,
Enhances memory 10
The benefits of dance have been documented across a range of medical conditions including:
Arthritis including Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis 11
Neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis 3,12–14
Intellectual disabilities 16
References and Further Reading
1. Bupa. Shall We Dance Report. (2011).
2. Krampe, J. Dance-based therapy to decrease fall risk in older persons. (University of Missouri–Columbia, 2010).
3. Hackney, M. E. & Earhart, G. M. Effects of dance on balance and gait in severe Parkinson disease: a case study. Disabil. Rehabil. 32, 679–684 (2010).
4. Hopkins, D. R., Murrah, B., Hoeger, W. W. & Rhodes, R. C. Effect of low-impact aerobic dance on the functional fitness of elderly women. Gerontologist 30, 189–192 (1990).
5. Donath, L., Roth, R., Hohn, Y., Zahner, L. & Faude, O. The effects of Zumba training on cardiovascular and neuromuscular function in female college students. EJSS 14, 569–577 (2014).
6. Baldari, C. & Guidetti, L. VO2max, ventilatory and anaerobic thresholds in rhythmic gymnasts and young female dancers. J. Sports Med. Phys. Fitness 41, 177–182 (2001).
7. Huang, S. Y., Hogg, J., Zandieh, S. & Bostwick, S. B. A ballroom dance classroom program promotes moderate to vigorous physical activity in elementary school children. Am. J. Health Promot. 26, 160–165 (2012).
8. Koch, S. C. et al. Effects of Dance Movement Therapy and Dance on Health-Related Psychological Outcomes. A Meta-Analysis Update. Front. Psychol. 10, 1806 (2019).
9. Müller, P. et al. Evolution of Neuroplasticity in Response to Physical Activity in Old Age: The Case for Dancing. Front. Aging Neurosci. 9, 56 (2017).
10. Simmons-Stern, N. R., Budson, A. E. & Ally, B. A. Music as a memory enhancer in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Neuropsychologia 48, 3164–3167 (2010).
11. Marks, R. Dance‐based exercise and Tai Chi and their benefits for people with arthritis: a review. Health Educ. 105, 374–391 (2005).
12. Marchant, D., Sylvester, J. L. & Earhart, G. M. Effects of a short duration, high dose contact improvisation dance workshop on Parkinson disease: a pilot study. Complement. Ther. Med. 18, 184–190 (2010).
13. Mandelbaum, R. & Lo, A. C. Examining Dance as an Intervention in Parkinson’s Disease: A Systematic Review. American Journal of Dance Therapy vol. 36 160–175 (2014).
14. Mandelbaum, R., Triche, E. W., Fasoli, S. E. & Lo, A. C. A Pilot Study: examining the effects and tolerability of structured dance intervention for individuals with multiple sclerosis. Disabil. Rehabil. 38, 218–222 (2016).
15. Verghese, J. Cognitive and mobility profile of older social dancers. J. Am. Geriatr. Soc. 54, 1241–1244 (2006).
16. Martínez-Aldao, D., Martínez-Lemos, I., Bouzas-Rico, S. & Ayán-Pérez, C. Feasibility of a dance and exercise with music programme on adults with intellectual disability. J. Intellect. Disabil. Res. 63, 519–527 (2019).
17. Fong Yan, A. et al. The Effectiveness of Dance Interventions on Physical Health Outcomes Compared to Other Forms of Physical Activity: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Med. 48, 933–951 (2018).
18. Merom, D., Ding, D. & Stamatakis, E. Dancing Participation and Cardiovascular Disease Mortality: A Pooled Analysis of 11 Population-Based British Cohorts. Am. J. Prev. Med. 50, 756–760 (2016).