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    “If You’re Sad, Stomp Your Feet”: Dance and Health

        “If you’re sad and you know it, stomp your feet!” Almost everyone knows the old song. But does dancing actually improve health?

    Dance and the Elderly

        Actually, research suggests that it does. “Dancing now ranks as one of the best exercises. According to a recent study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, dancing may be a better form of exercise than traditional fitness training when it comes to slowing the signs of aging,” one healthcare website exclaims. The AARP noted that dance appeared to benefit both dementia and Parkinson’s patients; one research scientist tells their newsletter that “”The focus is on helping them find new ways of moving and to improve the speed at which they move”.  A research study published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience determined that, when the elderly participated in Greek traditional dance classes, their average overall fitness increased considerably.

    Dance and Youth

        So, it would seem that dancing is good for the elderly. But what about at other ages? “Dance is a powerful ally for developing many of the attributes of a growing child. Dance helps children mature physically, emotionally, socially, and cognitively. The physical benefits of dance are widely accepted, but the emotional, social and cognitive attributes have only recently begun to be appreciated,” the National Dance Education Organization says

    Dance and Therapy

        Dance is now being used as a form of therapy. DMT programs – dance/movement therapy – is used in psychiatric hospitals, one-on-one treatment, and general hospitals. “Dance therapy… is rooted in the idea that mind and body are inseparable,” one text says. Research suggests it’s an effective treatment. “Qualitative findings suggest there was a decrease in depression scores in favor of DMT groups in all studies,” one study reads

        So does dance improve health? It certainly seems to do so! Here’s your excuse to break out your old tap shoes, and start moving!

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