Get up and grab your partner around the waist—dancing is the perfect activity to strengthen your relationship. And according to experts, it has a whole host of wellness benefits, making it the perfect way to feel close to loved ones. “There is something about doing the same thing at the same time with other people that really bonds us and expands our sense of self,” says Scott Wiltermuth, Ph.D., an organizational behavior professor at the University of Southern California, in an interview with Monitor on Psychology. Here are seven reasons to take up dancing.
While the number of calories you burn while dancing depends on multiple factors such as your body weight and intensity of activity, a Harvard Health blog post explains 30 minutes of dancing may burn more than 100 calories. In an article for Time, the author references the words of researchers in one dance study, published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports. “Dancing requires not only balance, strength, and endurance ability, but also cognitive ability: Adaptability and concentration to move according to the music and partner, artistry for graceful and fluid motion, and memory for choreography,” the researchers write. This particular study looked at how various forms of physical activity affected about 1,000 elderly Japanese women and their risk of becoming physically disabled, explains Time. Yet, dancing benefits all age groups.
Dancing together allows couples to physically reconnect. What do you notice when you see two people dancing together? As they dance, eyes meet, bodies are positioned close together, close enough so that you can practically feel one another breathing. When you're dancing close together in harmony, your intimate connection grows as well. In an article for The Conversation, the author writes that even small, synchronized movements (such as tapping your finger in time with someone else), builds trust and closeness.
“Dancing increases cognitive acuity at all ages. It integrates several brain functions at once—kinesthetic, rational, musical and emotional—further increasing your neural connectivity,” said Richard Powers, a social and historic dance instructor at Stanford University, in an interview with The New York Times. Combining rhythm and movement increases one's capacity to manage stress and flexibility to change, adds Powers. In other words, dancing builds resilience in more ways than one.
Trust and Communication
Dance also builds trust. The both of you will act as a team to learn and execute the choreography. "Dance partners learn how to work together, move together, listen to each other, and to move past missteps," writes one Fast Company contributor, referencing their personal experience with dance. "Our collaboration in teams and groups allows us to open up new ways of working with others, sometimes taking the lead and sometimes following," they add. Similarly, when you dance together, you have to pay attention to one another and communicate both verbally and non-verbally, which will deepen your appreciation for expressing your own needs, and working to meet your partner's needs. "Healthy relationships require leading and following or give and take on some level as well," reads a Fred Astaire Dance Studio blog post.
The teamwork required while dancing together builds trust and communication skills; two crucial elements of successful relationships.
Fun and Relaxation
And practicalities aside, dancing is just plain fun. This could be a way to break out of your comfort zone and explore a new activity together, especially for couples in long-term relationships; for newer couples, it can create a way to deepen your connection. At the same time, going out to dance (or creating space to do it at home) provides time for the two of you away from daily responsibilities. Plus, one study suggests that couples that have a shared social ritual tend to be more satisfied with their relationship.