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Get Up and Dance!

dance classWhile we all know that dance has many physical benefits, a recent study published in Trends in Neuroscience and Education found that dance, rap, and other creative endeavors can boost the memory and creativity of underachieving students. This reinforces the idea that dance and creative arts should be integrated into school curriculums.

Overall, the study showed that dance had positive effects on reading achievement for high-need students, as well as positive benefits for mathematics achievement, critical thinking, motivation, and student engagement. It advanced the idea that integrating dancing and other arts into the learning environment could improve the achievement gaps between low-performing students and their more proficient classmates. In fact, the authors of a blog on TED-Ed assert that dance is as important in school as math.

How does dance help learning?

The brain runs on electrical current, which requires oxygen and water. Movement such as dancing provides the necessary oxygen for the brain to function; therefore, dancing can help it function more proficiently.

Dancing also releases endorphins, which creates a feeling of euphoria, energizes the body, and makes the brain more conducive to learning. In addition, children strengthen their cognitive abilities and memory skills through learning different dance moves and choreography.

Benefits go beyond the classroom

Dance has been shown to improve sensitivity, understanding, appreciation, and consideration for others. Dance can broaden a child’s horizons by introducing them to other people and social situations, which will help them better relate later in life. Dance also helps develop self-confidence and self-esteem, helps children focus, and helps them learn discipline — which are all necessary life skills.

Dance helps calm children who suffer with hyperactivity disorders, as well as those who suffer from self-destructive behaviors. It can help restore happiness and stability in lives affected by bullying and ease the tensions in schools that are disrupted by violence. Students who learn to perform complex rhythms and movements can also make quicker and more precise corrections in many academic and life situations.

Not just for students

The benefits of dancing are not limited to students. Virtually anyone can benefit both physically and mentally. Here are just some of the benefits that you, your children, and even your aging parents can experience from dance:

  • Improved functioning of your heart and lungs, as well as improved endurance
  • Weight management
  • Improved muscle tone, flexibility, strength, balance, and fine motor skills
  • Stronger bones and decreased risk of osteoporosis
  • Improved cognitive skills, increased confidence and social skills, and decreased feelings of isolation
  • Reduced stress and increased general feelings of well-being

Although it’s obvious dance and other creative arts have an important place in the classroom, it’s also important for the general population. For those who hate the gym, your local dance studio or nightclub might be the answer. But you don’t need a formal dance setting to get up and move. Dance while you’re cooking, vacuuming, or doing yard work. Dance in the living room with your kids or spouse. Dance wherever you are, and dance as if no one is watching. Just dance — for a better, longer, happier life.