Above: Knesiology Club Party at the University of Maryland where Barb
taught and a group performed Rueda. spring 2013.
DIT performers posing outside of Camden Yards Stadium in Baltimore
before a show there for the March of Dimes.
HEALTH AND FITNESS BENEFITS OF DANCE
"In many shamanic societies, people who complain of
being disheartened...or depressed would be asked,... "When did you
stop dancing?" ... This is because
dancing is a
universal healing salve." - Gabrielle Roth
Salsa dancing so greatly
lifts people's spirits, that many students comment on the therapeutic value of Salsa classes!
For sure, listening to music
makes people feel better--by activating endorphins. Physical
exercise does the same thing, and so does socializing
with friends. This recipe for improved well-being describes
dancing perfectly! It is
hard to imagine any activity with greater healing powers.
All dancers know the feeling..... The
elation that comes from moving to music in rhythm, the relaxation
that results from concentrating on the beat and forgetting one's
An organization called the "Institute for Music and Neurologic
Function" headed by Dr. Concetta Tomaino, is doing great work in the
therapeutic use of music. At a talk on June 6, 2013 at
Strathmore Music Center, Dr. Tomaino gave many examples how music
has been used therapeutically for patients with dementia, Parkinsons
syndrome, autism, etc. For example, music that has meaning to
the individual has enabled Parkinson's sufferers who were unable to
walk, to start taking steps again. This may sound like
magic, but the power of music, to put it bluntly, IS magical....
And combining music with dance is even more so.
Cuban Salsa, a group Salsa dance, works even better
to increase well-being because of the team spirit of the dance. The continuous partner exchanges adds a feeling of community to the
Articles On Dance And
1. Dancing for Health: Conquering and
Preventing Stress by Judith Lynne Hanna, AltaMira Press, a
Division of Rowman and Littlefield Publishers; 2006.
http://www.judithhanna.com/pub-health.html (Book listing from
2. “Salsa Dancing Offers Physical and
Mental Benefits to Partners” by Richard Methia, August 4, 2010.
(If you go to this link, be sure to scroll
down all the way down the page so you don't miss some of the
3. Dance Therapy Article from
4. “Dancing Helps Boys With ADHD.”
Research project by Barbro Renck of Karlstad University and Erna
Gronlund of the University College of Dance in Stockhom, June 8,
2006, and reported in The American Journal of Dance Therapy.
5. “The Mental Health Benefits of Music” by
Darlene Oakley, August 18, 2010.
6. “Divergent Effects of Joyful and
Anxiety-Provoking Music on Endothelial Vasoreactivity,” by Michael
Miller, MD, C. Charles Mangano, BA, RDMS, Valerie Beach, RN, Willem
J. Kop, Ph.D., and Robert Vogel, MD; Psychosomatic Medicine
Abstract at this link:
Further “summary” report on this research:
“Joyful Music May Promote Heart Health, According to University of
Maryland School of Medicine Study”
7. “Shall We Dance? An Exploration of the
Perceived Benefits of Dancing on Well-Being” by Cynthia Quiroga
Murcia, Gunter Kreutz, Stephen Clift, and Stephan Bongard; Arts
and Health, Volume 2, Issue 2, Sept. 2010, pages 149-163.
8. “The Art of Healing: Visual and
Performing Arts Take on a Bigger Role in Patient Recovery” by Beth
Baker, Washington Post, August 17, 2004 Page HE01.
9. “Friends for Life: An Emerging Biology
of Emotional Healing,” by Daniel Goleman; New York Times,
October 10, 2006.
10. Socializing Appears to Delay Memory
Problems” by Tara Parker-Pope. Reported in the New York Times
Health Section, March 1, 2011.
11. “Having More Friends Adds Years to Your
Life---Study” by Silky Chandani, The Med Guru, Sept. 14, 2010.
12. "Dancing Away an Anxious Mind: A
Memoir About Overcoming Panic Disorder" by Robert Rand.
Copyright 2004 by University of Wisconsin Press.
13. "Friends With Health Benefits" by
8.24.10. Link at:
15. "Exercise Treatment for Depression: Efficacy and Dose Response"
by Andrea Dunn Ph.D.; Madhukar Trivedi MD, James Kampert Ph.D.;
Camillia Clark Ph.D.; Heather Chambliss Ph.D.
American Journal Preventive Medicine,
2005; 28(1):1-8. Link at:
16. The American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA) is
headquartered in Maryland. They publish and sell literature with
information on how dance can be used therapeutically with people who are
ill. Their address is
10632 Little Patuxent Parkway, Suite 108, Columbia, MD
21044-3263 and the phone is: (410) 997-4040. I have found them
helpful in suggesting suitable things for me to read. For example,
they have materials on Marian Chace, the key founder of the Dance
Therapy Movement. For a summary of the development of this field
which stems in part from the emphasis in modern dance on expressing the
dancer's feelings, go to this link:
17. "Dance: Take On a Cha-Cha Challenge," by Jeannine Stein,
Los Angeles Times, January 7, 2011.
(Discusses the advantages to health of many dances
including Salsa including which dances have which specific
advantages--aerobic, strength-building, improved balance, etc.)
18. The nation's top rated hospital,
Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, puts out "white papers" which have
information on health issues. In 2011, they published a booklet on
anxiety and depression and one of the subtopics was the way exercise
boosts mood. Research done at Duke University is cited in this
publication that shows the benefit of regular exercise to comparable
taking an antidepressant for mild to moderate depression. The
article explains that exercise affects levels of brain chemicals
like serotonin, which relieve tension, induce calm and make it
easier to handle anxiety and stress. Hormones called endorphins are
released by the pituitary gland during exercise, and they create a
sense of well-being. (This is what happens when people who run get a
"runner's high.") To read more about it, visit:
19. "Hospitals Find That Alternative Therapies
Are a Good Way to Attract Paying Patients," Washington Post
Health Section, Nov. 15, 2011. Link:
This article discusses how hospitals increasingly offer art/music therapy (along
with other alternative therapies) to inpatients not only because it
can sometimes be effective treatment, but also for economic reasons.
Offering alternative therapies apparently helps attract patients to
20. "Brain Rules: Twelve Principles for
Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School," by John Medina,
Pear Press (P.O. Box 70525; Seattle, WA), Copyright 2008. The
author, Professor Medina, is a developmental molecular biologist at
the U. of Washington School of Medicine and the Brain Center for
Applied Learning Research at Seattle Pacific University. In
his book, he explains how the brain functions at a molecular level
and applies the results to how human beings can most effectively
work, learn, and function. This includes learning mental or
physical tasks. His first rule is that exercise
improves brain power. In his own words, "To improve your
thinking skills, move." He also says that "on mental
tests, exercisers outperform couch potatoes on long term memory,
reasoning, attention, problem-solving, and fluid-intelligence
tests." AND, if "couch potatoes" start an aerobic exercise
program, their cognivitve abilities improve, so this relationship
doesn't look like a simple correlation (without causation).
Not much exercise is needed to show some mental improvement....
In fact, "couch potatoes" who are fidgetty, actually do a little
better on mental skills than "couch potatoes" who don't fidget!
His rules for how brains work make a strong statement on the
benefits of exercise for both overall health and well-being as well
as for improved cognitive function and learning.
To read more of these findings, get his book which is entertaining
and very readable for lay people, or visit his website:
www.brainrules.net. You can
also watch this video:
"Music, The Brain, and Ecstasy: How Music Captures Our Imagination,"
by Robert Jourdain, Avon Books, copyright 1997. The book
discusses the impact of music on the mind. Its final chapter
on "ecstasy" begins with findings of how helpful music can be in
restoring Parkinsons patients to normal movment, and extends the
power that music has in feelings of well being to people in general.
It's powerfully written material.
"Music and Neuroscience: What Happens to Your Brain Under the
Influence of Music," by Alasdair Wilkins, io9--We come from the
future, Sunday Jan. 6, 2013. Here is the link:
23. "The Scientific American Healthy Aging Brain: The
Neuroscience of Making the Most of Your Mature Mind" by Judith
Horstman, published by Jossey-Bass, a Wiley Imprint, copyright 2012
by John Wiley and Sons and Scientific American, copyright 2012. This
exceedingly readable book of just 200 pages, reads like a summary of
many of the other articles in this list. Although the title
makes it sound like a book about aging, it is really more of a book
about how adults can get the greatest health and well being from
their brains throughout adult life. There is of course a great
emphasis throughout the book on exercise, which trumps many other
dimensions of health in importance. Dance and particularly
partnership dancing is specifically mentioned as a healthful
activity. And the role of music is addressed. The author
says we tend to "self-medicate with music" which is an interesting
concept. Likewise whole chapters are devoted to the role of
socializing, mental stimulation, and creative activities---which are
all components of dancing. This is a great read and even
24. "A Marine's Short Life Becomes a Ballet," Washington Post,
Metro Section Page B1, March 7, 2013. This article states that
ballet training contributed to a young man's "mental toughness"
which helped him subsequently in the army. The article also
addresses the way that dance can be used for self expression and to
25. "This Women Was About To Go In For Surgery.
What She Did Moments Before Was Awesome" by Lori Leibovich,
Huffington Post; 11.06.13.
Deborah Cohan turns the operating room into a dance party, prior to
her double masectomy. The video shows the joy that dancing can
bring, even in the face of a serious situation.
26. Check out this
video about using movement as therapy. It is interesting!
27. Use It Or Lose It: Dancing Makes You Smarter" by Richard
Powers, copyright July 30, 2010. Stanford Dance.
This article says that there is imporvment in cognitive acuity at
all ages as a result of dance exercise. And the suggestion is
that the more the better: dance as much as you can!
Above: This clever pictures says it all!!
after putting up this page on my website, I saw someone with this shirt
at a Salsa Congress. I think the caption says it all!!