What Dancing Does For Your Body & Brain

Shimmy, shake, kick and turn, move to the music. Dancing is fun (unless you’re like me and have 3 left feet), and being energetic burns calories. We have done many posts on how “exercise” helps your mood, your brain and your body.  Dancing goes a step further (pun intended) as it not only can increase muscle strength it enhances coordination.  If you add social dancing it stimulates your mirror neurons. (Read: Do you know your brain is wired to be social)

Burn Calories

You burn about 600 calories an hour when dancing*-like an easy run, a swim, or riding a bike. One reason for this is that when you dance, you move in all directions, speed up and slow down often, too which means you don’t use energy efficiently-which actually means you use more energy.

Meowie MOOOOOOVES . . . Dancing Cats Poster available, click HERE 

Mini Muscle Strength

Burning calories isn’t the only upside to dancing. You strengthen muscle in upper and lower torso as you dance including little muscles that support your body and don’t get used as much walking or running.

 Memory & Mood Elevation

Your brain’s white matter acts like connective tissue which breaks down with age,  causing slower thinking and memory problems.  A research study** found dancing is related to better white matter integrity in older brains.

Dancing can reduce anxiety as well as promote socializing and developing connections with others. Touching has been shown to improve well-being.

Boogie On!

*The University of Brighton (UK)

**Agnieszka Burzynska, assistant professor of neuroscience at Colorado State University study published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience

http://time.com/4828793/dancing-dance-aerobic-exercise/

Name it, Blame it and feel happier

A favorite strategy to feel better, feel happier is backed by neuroscience, requires no Rx, practically no time nor physical energy.

When feeling angry, stressed, sad, lonely all you need to do is give your feeling a name to defuse it.

David Rock* explains:
“To reduce arousal, you need to use just a few words to describe an emotion, and ideally use symbolic language, which means using indirect metaphors, metrics, and simplifications of your experience. This requires you to activate your prefrontal cortex, which reduces the arousal in the limbic system. Here’s the bottom line: describe an emotion in just a word or two, and it helps reduce the emotion.”

“fMRI studies support this idea.  Participants viewed pictures of people with emotional facial expressions. Each participant’s amygdala activated to the emotions in the picture. But when they were asked to name the emotion, the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex activated and reduced the emotional amygdala reactivity. In other words, consciously recognizing the emotions reduced their impact.”

Here are some Peggyjudy ways you can NAME IT-BLAME IT and feel HAPPIER:

Call your emotion a Silly Name

  • Fantastically futile funk
  • Silly Sally Sad
  • Fangry Angry
  • Mumifiably Mad
  • Fraiday-Cat Fear

Draw a stick figure or an “emoji”

Metrics – Washed over by Emotion

  1. Give your emotion a number from 1 – 10 points.
  2. 1 = Ripple  5=Body-surfing wave  10=Tzunami
  3. Each minute after assigning a number to your emotion subtract 1 point until you are down to a ripple.

Pick a Mad Metaphor

Fit to be Tired by Peggy

  • I’m fit to be tied
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Fly off the handle
  • Blow a gasket, blow a fuse
  • Up in arms
  • In a black mood
  • Go ballistic

Pick a Fear Metaphor

  • Trembling like a leaf
  • Like a deer (or a mouse) in headlights
  • A shivering wreck. 
  • Paralysed with terror. 
  • Scared silly

Pick a Sad Metaphor

Woofer’s Sinking Heart by Peggy

  • Down in the mouth
  • Feeling low
  • Feeling blue
  • In a black mood
  • Gloomy Gus
  • My heart sank.
  • In the depths of despair.

DISCLAIMER!

You are hereby notified that the stunts and tricks displayed in this post are performed by professional animals and stick figures in controlled environments, such as closed circuit dark roads at midnight. Do not attempt to duplicate, re-create, or perform the same or similar stunts and tricks at home, as personal injury or property damage may result. All animals were paid scale-wage treats and none were harmed in the production of this post. The authors of this post are not responsible for any such injury or damage.

 

*David Rock,  Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long