Physical exercise has progressed through the millennia from the basic requirement of a hunger-gatherer society to, in most civilizations, a voluntary activity. People might make a living in a particular sport, and develop the physique necessary to excel in that arena. Or, they may simply look for a way to improve their health and attitude through a regular workout. While Yoga and martial arts have been around for thousands of years, there is one form of exercise that dates back even further. Dancing has been a form of social interaction and physical activity even before organized martial arts. That is why dancing has come to be part of today’s exercise movement. Not only can you experience a great workout, you can elevate your mood and expand your social network, as long as you have the right dance shoes.
Types of Dance
There are as many types of dance in this world as there are cultures. Each sub-group has dances they enjoy. General categories of dance include:
- Country and Western
Ballet and ballroom dancing are often considered to be the “formal” dancing that people participate in. These are the dance steps that are taught uniformly all over the world.
There are actually far more cultural dances than there are formal dances. Flamenco, belly, Latin, hip-hop, and jazz dancing all have their particular, documented “moves” that can be taught in classes. Many of these are outgrowth of cultural expressions and a response to the native music of each country of origin.
Swing dancing is a perfect example of a dance from a particular era. While some formal dances fit into this category as well, era dances typically were popular for a short time, then wore out their welcome, so to speak. Swing dancing is different from these, in that it is popular to this day. The Charleston, the Twist, and the pavane are seldom used today, but shaped the eras in which they were popular.
So, why do we dance? There have been, predictably, studies done on the effects of dancing. What may not be so predictable is the psychological results of dancing. While we know that exercise boosts the mood, these studies have shown that dancing has a particularly power effect on levels of anxiety, superior to that of other forms of exercise. In fact, dance therapy has proven to be effective in treating people suffering from PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Movement and Music
Part of the benefit of dance stems from the physical discipline necessary. Whether you are participating in a line dance or more strenuous waltz, the right brain and left brain all must work together to bring the body into alignment and balance, all in time to music. In the case of partner dances, the social and physical contact has desired effects on the physiology.
So, consider taking up dancing as a hobby. It’s a great way to help your outlook and your body at the same time.