In the December 2016 issue of BBC Focus magazine, Dr Peter Lovatt, who regularly appears as Dr Dance on BBC Two's Strictly Come Dancing: It takes two, tells us why it's good to get your groove on.
It boosts self-esteem
Several studies have shown that dancing can help to increase feelings of self-worth. In one 2007 study, researchers from Laban and Hampshire Dance found that children aged between 11 and 14 who took part in creative movement classes reported improved self-esteem, motivation, and more positive attitudes towards dance, as well as better physical fitness.
It helps you find a mate
It was Charles Darwin who suggested that dancing can act as a form of sexual selection, and research suggests that we are indeed communicating to potential mates when we strut our stuff. A 2011 study asked women to rate men on their dancing prowess. The winning formula? Head shaking, torso bending, and twisting of the right knee, apparently.
It tackles depression
Dancing has been shown to reduce feelings of depression. But different dancing styles have different effects. In a study led by Andrew Lane at the University of Wolverhampton, dancing characterised by relaxed, free-flowing movements helped to improve mood, whereas dancing in a physically contracted way had the opposite effect.
It helps solve problems
Just five minutes of freestyle dancing is enough to increase your creativity, according to researchers at Sheffield and York Universities. In 2014, participants were asked to either dance, cycle or sit quietly while listening to music, and it was the dancers who showed improvements in both mood and creative problem solving.
It relieves pain
Rugby is a tough game played by tough people. But some rugby players will dance before a game – just think of the New Zealand team’s haka. In 2015, researchers at the University of Oxford found that group dancing can increase a person’s threshold for pain. Dancing, it seems, can release endorphins, helping to take the sting out of a full-contact tackle.