Please enjoy the article below which was submitted to us by Jackie Clark, who is a researcher and writer focusing on the benefits of fitness and nutrition. Though her studies have shown a serious, important message regarding the benefits of dance exercise for cancer survivors, we here at Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Morristown accept her findings as further proof that dancing truly can make a significant difference in a person’s life! We hope you enjoy and pass on this beneficial message about dance!
Dance Therapy as a Lifeline and Positive Outlet
By: Jackie Clark
Many people dance simply for the pure joy it brings. Expressing the self through movements, whether they are instinctive or choreographed, is a practice nearly as ancient as the human race. In some cases, such as a first dance in middle school, dancing is a rite of passage. In others, such as for the professional dancer, it is a way of life. For the person living with cancer dancing can become something else entirely. It is a lifeline, a positive outlet and a means of vibrantly stating the fact of existence.
Like all moderately strenuous physical activity dancing causes the brain to release powerful endorphins. These endorphins have been shown time and again to have a positive influence on the quality of life of mesothelioma patients and those fighting other forms of cancer.
It is not unusual for people who have been diagnosed with cancer to feel alone and cut off from the world around them. Depression commonly follows on the heels of diagnosis and certainly this is a stressful time. The magic of dance therapy is that it encourages cancer patients to renew their ties with the outside world. Learning a new dance discipline such as ballroom dancing involves meeting new people, learning a new skill and developing an interest that can serve them well for many years.
Studies suggest that people living with cancer who engage in dance therapy improve their communication skills. Dance also provides them with a positive outlet for relieving the stress and anxiety that often accompany a cancer diagnosis. Other psychological benefits come through the mastering of a new skill. As the student progresses through the dance therapy sessions a sense of accomplishment appears to blossom within the individual. Students who find their interest growing may choose to increase their involvement in ballroom dance to encompass local competitions. This can provide helpful and enlightening distractions in an otherwise difficult time.
Of course no exercise program, including dance therapy, should be begin without consultation with doctors or other physicians who are providing care. Many doctors are now recommending that cancer patients remain physically active throughout their treatment, but it is always best to get individualized advice. Treatment that consists of an integrated approach comprising medical appointments, dance therapy and other methods like support groups can significantly improve the person’s mental and emotional outlook.
Cancer need not prevent people from getting out and exploring the world around them. A physician-supervised exploration of dance therapy may be an ideal means for improving quality of life. In addition it can improve muscle tone and flexibility. Many people who try dance therapy find they acquire an increased range of motion and better stamina in addition to the psychological and social benefits.