As we head into the Christmas party season, many of you will be thinking about donning your glad rags and grabbing your dancing shoes to take part in an activity which is sociable, enjoyable and a big calorie burner – yes, dancing!

Dancing requires no major ability to enjoy, and as long as you’re moving, you’ll be burning calories and getting your heart racing. Whilst more complex dancing involves flexibility, strength and balance, unless you’re going to attempt it professionally, it’s something that anyone at any age can enjoy, with plenty of great benefits for your health.

Health benefits of dancing

The popularity of Strictly Come Dancing, So You Think You Can Dance and other reality programmes has made dancing more popular than ever – and if you’ve always been an observer rather than a participant, knowing more about how dancing could boost your health could get you off the sofa and onto the dancefloor (even if that happens to be in the living room!).

Dancing keeps you young

Dancing is a great way to keep your mind and body young. By giving a good cardio workout you can boost your lung capacity in the same way that swimming or running does, helping to improve your capacity for other activities and lowering your risk of developing heart disease too.

It can help boost your memory

When you’re not doing your own thing freestyle, it’s likely that you’re following a routine. Having to memorise the steps for a dance can help to improve your memory, whilst aerobic exercise can also help to improve the part of your brain responsible for memory control. A study by the New England Journal of Medicine found that dancing decreased the risk of developing dementia in older people, as well as other types of leisure activities.

It improves flexibility

There are many types of dancing which are great for improving balance and flexibility. Adding in some dancing, such as ballet, to your fitness routine can help you to perform other types of exercise more effectively, ease pain on your joints as well as help reduce muscle soreness. Dancing can also be a fun alternative to yoga and pilates if you prefer to move to music.

It is great for losing weight

As dancing requires using all parts of your body, it requires higher circulation in order to fuel the body effectively. This alone requires increased energy, making it a great calorie burner. Even dancing around by yourself at home can be a great way to work out which doesn’t involve weight training or running on a treadmill.

It’s sociable

People of all ages can benefit from dancing, both socially and physically. For children, it’s a great way for them to meet other people, especially if they don’t have many friends at school, whilst older people may wish to join a class as a way to get out of the house and meet some like-minded people. Dance classes at the gym are fun and more exciting than a circuits or other challenging class, and you may get more out of exercise if you take part with others.

Dancing helps depression

There have been many studies which have found a link between easing depression and dancing, including a study published in Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine which found links between dancing and other physical activity in older women. Dancing and music are great mood boosters, and can be the ideal way to reduce your stresses and concerns after a tough day at work or home.

It can help improve your posture and balance

Dancing requires both good balance and posture, which can be improved when you undertake certain types of dance. Ballet is a popular part of dance training for boxers for example, as balance is extremely important for the sport. By improving your posture, you will be more likely to walk taller and sit straighter, reducing the aches and pains caused by sitting incorrectly or slouching. For children, it encourages good habits early on and helps them learn to control their bodies at a young age.

There are many other health benefits of dancing, allowing you to boost your physical and mental health easily. One of the great things about dancing is that it can be done at home, for free, and is perfect to do alone, with a partner or with a group. The NHS Choices website has plenty of information about dancing for fitness, and features some great videos to enjoy home dancing workouts too – get on your feet and get moving to enjoy the many health benefits of dancing!