A systematic review published in Sports Medicine by Australian researchers suggests that structured dance programs lasting at least six weeks can significantly enhance psychological and cognitive well-being, comparable to other forms of structured exercise.
The study, led by Dr Alycia Fong Yan from the University of Sydney, involved researchers from various institutions and encompassed participants aged 7 to 85, including those with chronic conditions like Parkinson’s disease or heart failure.
The review compared dance interventions to various physical activities such as team sports, walking, and weight training, across different age groups. It found that dance, regardless of genre, can effectively improve emotional well-being, depression, motivation, social cognition, and some aspects of memory. Moreover, dance activities may offer additional benefits such as cognitive challenges, social interaction, and artistic expression.
While older adults mostly engaged in social dance genres, younger participants often practised individual or group dance forms like aerobic or modern dance.
The research highlights dance’s potential to improve psychological health beyond just social benefits, especially in younger age groups.
Additionally, dance interventions were found to have a significant impact on self-efficacy, anxiety, depression, motivation, and quality of life, particularly in older individuals.
The study suggests that dance could serve as an enjoyable and effective alternative to traditional exercise, offering comprehensive health benefits and reducing the burden on healthcare systems.