The Healing Benefits of Dance
By Mélanie Préfontaine-Darius – Communications
Did you know that dance can be healing to the body? Today, I want to focus on how dance can help keep your immunity strong! I’ve always been in awe of how beautiful dance can be. In fact, as soon as I am able, I will register for adult dance lessons in the hopes of becoming that graceful dancer I see in my dreams. As some of you know, being raised in a small town has its limitations as far as extracurricular activities are concerned, and dance lessons was one of them. Whether you’re 80 years young or 8 years old, engaging in physical activities that involve dance changes you. From better physical and mental health to a boost in emotional and social well-being, moving your body to the sound of music can transform your life.
Let’s take a moment to learn about dance and how it can promote wellness and quality of life. The healthier you are, the more of yourself you are able to give in all areas of life.
Dance conditions an individual to moderate, eliminate, or avoid tension, chronic fatigue, and other disabling conditions that result from the effects of stress. Dance may help the healing process as a person gains a sense of control through:
1. possession by the spiritual in dance
2. mastery of movement
3. escape or diversion from stress and pain through a change in emotion, states of consciousness, and/or physical capability
4. confronting stressors to work through ways of handling their effects
Benefits of Dance
Dance is exercise and it gets the lymphatic system (interstitial fluid) moving through the body, which is necessary for the health of the lymphatic system and for the immune system. You see, the lymphatic system is part of your immune system. More on that later.
1. Improves cardiovascular health – all styles of dance make for great cardio workouts since your heart rate gets challenged from executing the different moves.
2. Improves balance and strength – one of the reasons dance is such a great form of physical fitness is because it incorporates movements on all planes of motion and from all directions.
“Movements that we typically do in our daily life, like walking, taking the stairs, and common workouts like treadmills and cycling, occur in the sagittal plane, but dance works your body from all planes, including lateral and rotational, which turns on and conditions all muscles, meaning no muscle is left behind.”
3. Gentle on your body – many forms of dancing, such as ballroom, are appropriate for people with limited mobility or chronic health issues.
1. Boosts cognitive performance – if you need a reason to get moving, consider this, research shows how dancing can maintain and even boost your ability to think as you age. According to some studies, scientists have found that the areas of the brain that control memory and skills, such as planning and organizing, improve with exercise like dance.
2. Challenges your brain – if you’ve ever tried tap dancing, you know exactly what I mean by dance challenging your brain. The brain power you need to access for dance, specifically, requires you to focus on both the constant changing of movement and recalling moves and patterns. This is an excellent form of mental exercise for your mind.
1. Can be a social activity – while you may prefer to “bust a move” when no one is watching, there’s something incredible about dancing with others. Whether you join a ballroom or tap dancing class, dance with friends, or get shaking with your kids or grandkids, being around other people while dancing is good for your social and emotional health.
2. Helps boost your mood – movement and dance are extremely expressive, which can allow you to escape and let loose. It’s this “letting loose” that helps improve your mental and emotional health by reducing stress, decreasing the symptoms of anxiety and depression, and boosting your self-esteem.
Back to the lymphatic system, lymph is analogous to blood in that they’re both liquids circulating in your body. But the similarity stops there. Unlike red blood’s circular, pumped movement, clear-to-white lymph moves just one way: out. So it’s up to you to eliminate it yourself through moving and deep breathing! (Another reason why a sedentary lifestyle can take years off your life.) Lymph is your body’s liquid trash can, to put it mildly. It picks up waste products formed from all the chemical reactions needed to keep you alive, ushering them out of your body. There’s also a toxic load of environmental chemicals like heavy metals that need to exit your body before they start wreaking biological havoc in you.
Did you know that you’re stacked with lymph hardware like:
· Lymph vessels weaved throughout almost all of your tissues and organs.
· Lymph nodes (100 of them!) that serve as checkpoints for mostly dead or dying immune cells that have already done their job fighting infection or are in the heat of doing so.
· Lymph organs like the tonsils, thymus, and spleen that serve as immune cell factories.
Given that about 80% of the immune system resides in the gut, it should come as no surprise that the gastrointestinal (GI) tract also contains some lymphatic tissue, called GALT, making it part of the lymphatic system, too. As lymph makes its way to the collection centers (nodes) the vessels carrying it merge. Then they become part of a more extensive, denser network of vessels that eventually morph into lymphatic ducts. Just like small streams emptying into larger ones and finally winding up in a river. Then the ducts deposit lymph into veins for its last hurrah until its final exit through your bladder, bowel, and sweat.
Ignored and under-rated for far too long, your lymphatic system is known to have several critically essential roles to play in keeping you healthy. Researchers exploring this “white blood” (as Hippocrates once described it), and discovered that it:
1. Detoxifies against microbes and other toxic substances.
2. Returns some excess protein molecules and fluid back to circulation.
3. Absorbs lipids (fatty substances) and fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D and E) from your GI tract and sends them off on their merry way into your bloodstream and beyond (to your cells).
Given how vital these functions are, it makes sense to keep lymph flowing so that you live toxin-free. And what can you do to get your lymph flowing:
1. Exercise, including dance, rebounding, resistance training (especially leg workouts), and deep breathing!
2. Drink plenty of clean/purified water.
3. Consume anti-inflammatory foods, vegetables and low glycemic index fruit, reduce or eliminate excess sugar, medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) – bypasses the lymph because they are small enough and don’t need bile for transport.
4. Herbs such as: turkey rhubarb, sheep sorrel, burdock root, astragalus root, slippery elm bark, graviola, chuchuhuasi.
The benefits of dance encompass all areas of health, including physical, mental, and emotional. Not only does it give you a way to express yourself and have fun, but it also counts toward your cardiovascular and lymph exercise minutes for the week.
The choice is yours, do you dance for health, longevity and overall performance or do you live a stagnant life unable to get rid of waste that contributes to symptoms of sluggishness, chronic headaches, brain fog and constipation.
So, grab your spouse, and get dancing!
NCBI, Healthline and microbe formulas
About the Author
I no longer have an autoimmune disease and have been cancer free for more than ten years. I attribute much of this restorative success to the body's ability to self-regulate, my positive attitude and commitment to making specific lifestyle changes, being disciplined in the process and continuously learning/studying. I respect and understand that a one size fits all approach to health or medicine is the wrong approach and can leave many harmed. I am currently a student enrolled in a holistic nutrition program and anticipate successfully completing the program and becoming a Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant (C.H.N.C) in Alberta, soon. In good health, Mélanie.
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