Is it possible to dance yourself happy?  Can your happiness be just a dance away? An article appearing in”Psychology Today” written by Lane Anderson reports of a study done at the University of Derby. Depressed patients given salsa dancing lessons improved their moods significantly by the end of the nine-week, hip-swiveling therapy.  Researchers cite the endorphin boost of exercise, plus the social interaction and concentration that dancing requires, and the increased self-confidence from learning a new skill.

The same article also reports on a German study of music and partner dancing. Twenty-two tango dancers had lower levels of stress hormones and higher levels of testosterone after dancing with partners, and they felt sexier and more relaxed. Another study at the University of New England shows how partner dancing helps fight depression. Study author Rosa Penniger credits the extreme focus or mindfulness of dance, which interrupts negative thought patterns that contribute to anxiety and depression.

Donna Newman-Bluestein, a dance therapist with the American Dance Therapy Association says, “Dancing lifts the body to an open, optimistic posture.” All of these reports come as no surprise to me. Dancing has been a constant in my life since I was three years old, and I plan to keep dancing as long as my legs will carry me! Dancing is a mind, body, spirit exercise that contributes to a feeling of being fully connected and whole. The element of non-verbal communication frees the body of daily stresses without having to say a word.

If you would like to boost your happiness level just give it a try. No worries if you don’t have a partner just sign up for a group class in your area. Partners in group classes usually rotate so everyone is included. It is also a great way to meet new people. The group classes, in general are reasonably priced. If money is an issue check your area for scheduled dances. Many dances offer a free lesson at the beginning of a dance.

Maybe you are one of those people who have no rhythm. Often I hear someone say that but the truth is you don’t need rhythm. The music has the rhythm! So get your groove on. Even if you just dance behind closed doors by yourself you will feel happier, but getting out social dancing is a real mood elevator.  Age has no bearing.  So spice up your life and get your sexy on!

There are many different styles of dance. Choose one where the music appeals to you. My favorite is the hustle dance because it is danced to fast, fun, upbeat music that ranges from the seventies to today’s top hits. The variety keeps it fresh and exciting to me. There are many other styles of dance I enjoy, but I got hooked on the hustle.  All I can tell you is that I’ve never had a bad night out dancing!

As everything in life there are many different levels of dance. You may choose to keep it at a social level or take it up a notch if you get ‘the fever.’ Oh yes, it can be addicting and you could find yourself in full costume ready for a competition in the very near future. But whatever level you choose to take your dancing to, there is one guarantee,  you will have a smile on your face!

Terri Lynn's Happy Talk

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