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This Saturday night saw the return of Strictly Come Dancing, Saturday nights in and TV’s countdown to Christmas!

This year’s Celebrities include Debbie Mcgee, Simon Rimmer and Alexandra Burke, who is hanging up her microphone and putting on her dancing shoes to take to the floor, battling it out with 12 other celebs to be crowned Britain’s Best Ballroom Dancer.

The celebrities and their dance partners have been practicing for several weeks leading up to the big opening night, but how can adding dance to your exercise regime help to improve your Mental Health?

Whether it is a short dance at a family wedding, a night out with friends or if you attend a regular dance class, we all feel better after a bit of a boogie! Research has shown that dance can be used as a ‘Mental Break’ and that mood improvements occur in recreational dancers, as well as increased energy levels and reductions in stress.

Dance therapy is increasingly being used in the treatment of Mental Health and the NHS is encouraging dancing as not only a great way to keep our bodies physically healthy, but also to reduce stress and exercise the mind. Research conducted by ‘The Arts in Psychotherapy’ found that dancing enhances the production of mood-improving chemicals, such as oxytocin, and helps to elevate our mental state. It can be particularly helpful if you have mental health problems relating to negative feelings about your appearance, such as an Eating Disorder or Body Dysmorphic Disorder, dancing can encourage interaction with others, whereas previously these kind of patients may have found communication with other people difficult. Statistics have proven that as little as one dance class can reduce depression and anxieties, when compared to an intense exercise class or listening to your favourite music which does not have the same effects.

Dancing has no age limit and is a great way for older adults, as well as young people, to keep the mind active, and to maintain and improve their cognitive flexibility. It provides a workout for the mind, encouraging a person’s memory and co-ordination to kick in and the risk of dementia and other mental health conditions to be kicked out. A study from New England Journal of Medicine and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, found that dancing could lower our risk of dementia by up to 76 percent, in comparison to reading at 36 %, crossword puzzles at 47% and swimming, cycling and golf at 0%.

There are variety of dance classes out there, for the young, the old, the fit, the unfit, whether you’re a beginner or advanced, whichever dance you choose, this Saturday when watching Strictly, why not get off your seat, and start moving your feet!
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