Stop What You’re Doing and Dance

Illustrations: Kaki Okumura

I was at the end of my workout, about to close out my music app, when one of my favorite songs came on.

Oh dang, I can’t press skip on this one.

I thought I would just continue stretching to it, but I couldn’t help but start dancing. I usually don’t dance — I’m pretty awful at it — but I decided to turn up the volume full blast and pretend I was celebrating something. Completely absorbed, I found that the music brought on a mix of nostalgia and delight, as it were one of the last songs I danced to before the pandemic hit.

As I was dancing, I accidentally caught my reflection in the window and thought I would cringe at myself, but instead I was surprised by what I saw: a face that was having so much fun.

Dancing is great for our bodies and brain health

Turns out, dancing is really great for our health: It’s an accessible way to get our heart pumping, support our cardiovascular health, and improve our balance and core strength. The gentle, self-paced nature of dancing means that even those with limited mobility or chronic health issues can participate.

And dancing serves more than our bodies: It’s also great for our brain. According to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine, dancing is one of the best physical activities you can participate in to help prevent dementia and boost your cognitive health as you age, because dance activates the same parts of your brain that are responsible for memory.

Studies have also shown that dancing helps decrease anxiety, boost confidence, and overall has been linked with improved emotional well-being.

It took a pandemic to try dancing alone, and now I wonder how I lived without it

It actually seems I’m late to the party when it comes to discovering how wonderful dancing at home can be: Dancing videos on TikTok regularly go viral, and at-home dance workouts on YouTube have seen an incredible jump in traffic during the pandemic. Apparently it doesn’t matter if there’s no party: People are dancing alone in their bedrooms, kitchens, backyards, and even in their bathrooms.

When I first caught myself dancing alone, I thought about how I probably looked ridiculous, but how can you care what you look like when you’re the only person in the room? Dancing is just one of those things humans naturally love to do. Feeling strong and feeling good as I moved, I realized I didn’t need to wait for a party, partner, or purpose to start dancing.

Born in Dallas, raised in New York and Tokyo. I care about helping others learn to live a better, healthier life. My site: 🌱

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