Teenage girls struggling with mental health problems should look into dance classes.
Recent studies suggests it can increase self-esteem and reduce psychiatric complaints.
A recently published Swedish study found that teen girls in that country who take dance are less likely to continue with mental health problems than girls who don’t dance.
According to the study, 91 percent of girls with problems such as depression, anxiety, fatigue, and headaches would describe their dance class as a positive experience.
At Örebro University, Anna Duberg studied the benefits of 112 Swedish girls in dance training.
53 of the girls were placed in a control group where their lifestyle was not changed, while the other 59 participated in a dance class twice a week.
The 75-minute class lasted for 8 months of the year for two years. The girls got to create their own dance routines for portions of each class, and provided input into the music and choreography.
Their dance classes focused more on the “joy of movement, not on the performance” according to the study.
The benefits aren’t limited to Swedish girls, and they aren’t limited to dance either.
Other studies have found that sports and exercise in general can benefit mental health.
Senior Ruthie Kaplan, who takes Zumba dance workouts at 24 Hour Fitness, said she is not surprised by the study’s findings.
Although she doesn’t suffer the problems of girls in the study, she said dance class helps participants keep a positive attitude.
“We are all happy because everybody doesn’t care what they look like when they’re dancing,” Kaplan said. “Also it’s a workout so you release endorphins and feel good after.”
Researchers said it is unclear what about the class had such an impact on the girls.
They speculated that it was the social aspect, the sense of control over the music and choreography, the dancing itself, or something else.
“Dance is a well-established and popular form of physical activity, particularly for young women,” the researchers wrote.
“It can provide a supportive environment and an opportunity to enhance low body attitudes and physical self-perceptions.”
People who exercise 2.5 to 7.5 hours a week have better mental health.
Experts believe that chemicals are released in your brain while you exercise that make you feel good.
So the next time you or a friend is feeling down, try taking a dance class.
It’ll lift your spirits and keep you in shape.