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Finding Happiness through Dance

Dance plays an important part in all cultures across the world and it has held a significant role in society for thousands of years. But what is it about dance that make us happy?

There have been many studies carried out over the years attempting to discover what makes dance so enjoyable. Perhaps it is the thought of physical self-improvement through exercising your whole body, the satisfaction of completing a routine, or the social aspect of dancing with your friends. Studies have even shown that dancing effects our mental wellbeing too!

Dr Peter Lovatt of the University of Hertfordshire claims that dancing has ‘cognitive elements to it’, as dancing causes a bigger release of endorphins than any other exercise, allowing us to make an emotional release. This therefore improves our mental state, enabling us to become more positive and happier. Studies from Sheffield and York University have also shown that after dancing an individual’s problem-solving skills improve. So, dance not only improves our state of mind, but it also increases our cognitive abilities, providing us with the tools to live a more satisfying life. Now that’s something to be happy about! ( participants, as it allows close bonds and friendships to be formed between those who take part.

We all know that dancing along to our favourite song can make us feel happy in the moment, but psychologists have also proven that dance classes improve long term happiness by improving anxiety, depression and stress. A study at the University of Örebro showed that after two years of dance classes, participants with depression, anxiety and stress showed a significant improvement in their symptoms and were reported to feel a lot happier. Another study conducted at the University of Derby, also demonstrated that dance improved the happiness of people suffering with depression. The participants received salsa lessons and showed improvements after only four weeks! After finishing a nine week course, the participants said they had ‘fewer negative thoughts, better concentration and a greater sense of peace and tranquillity’.

Dance can be seen to hold a very positive effect on our daily lives, as it is a social activity that allows a connection with others to be formed. As well as improving our physical wellbeing, dance also improves our mental state and our relationships, which in turn makes us happy. Dance, therefore, is a way to exercise, release our emotions and endorphins, create bonds and improve our mental state both instantaneously and in the long term. Dance is a fun activity that perhaps we should all consider when looking for ways to improve our health, happiness and wellbeing. Could dance be the ‘not so secret’ key to a happy life?