When’s the last time you went dancing? Maybe it was a childhood ballet class. Or, maybe a cringe-worthy moment at the club, or an awkward prom situation. Regardless of what your current relationship with dancing is, one thing’s for sure: it’s time to put your dancing shoes on. That’s because research has some pretty powerful things to say about this fun activity. Shall we?

For starters, dancing is a great cardio, calorie-burning workout. According to Nick Smeeton, a lecturer at the University of Brighton, and co-author of a report on dance and physical health benefits, dancing requires, “movements in all directions…there is a lot of accelerating and decelerating in dancing, which the body is less able to do in an energy efficient way.”

All of this starting and stopping is like a mini HIIT session, but a lot more fun.

But perhaps one of the most compelling reasons to dance is because of its powerful psychological benefits.

Dancing lowers psychological distress

For example, this Korean study compared high school and undergraduate students who did four activities: aerobics, hip-hop dancing, body conditioning and ice skating. They found that those students who did either aerobics or hip-hop experiences a lower rate of psychological distress than those who did the other two activities.

Dancing improves brain white matter

A study last year discovered that dance could improve the white matter inside the brain. White matter is an important tissue in the brain, and something that breaks down with age. Dancing, it seems, can both protect and maintain brain white matter.

Dancing connects you with others

And when it comes to dancing with others, you can increase your feeling of sameness and social bonding.

If you’re interested in dancing, why not consider trying one (or two) of its many forms? There’s so much to choose from, like tap, jazz, ballet, modern, hip-hop, ballroom, belly and salsa.

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