We all know that dancing can be great for our physical health. After all, there's a reason that we often refer to a well-toned physique as a "dancer's body." However, there is evidence that shows cutting a rug can also enhance the health of our brain! Sure,  it's pretty fair to assume that dancing can brighten our mood and make us happy, but dancing can also improve our mental health. Yes,  busting a move does much more for our brains than we may have ever realized.

While we tend to think of dance only as a type of physical activity, the fact is that it also requires a bit of mental effort, and of course,  social interaction. For this reason, more areas of our brain are activated while dancing than when we do other physical activities. The more these areas are exercised, the stronger they will perform. For this reason, a study by Minot State University concluded that dance helped improve particular cognitive abilities, like visual recognition, decision-making, depth perception, and long-term memory.

Other studies have shown that dancing can decrease the risk of dementia for this very reason as well. Out of 11 different types of physical activities, including cycling, golf, swimming, and tennis, researchers found that only dance lowered the participants' risk of dementia.

Dance has even been found to be therapeutic for patients with Parkinson's disease. Parkinson's disease belongs to a group of motor disorders, which develop when the brain's dopamine-producing cells are lost.According to Daniel Tarsy, MD, an HMS professor of neurology and director of the Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), dance may improve slowed movement, stiffness, tremors, and poor balance and coordination in patients with the disease.
Tarsy says that dance can be considered a form of rhythmic auditory stimulation (RAS). Patients are shown a series of rhythmic beats and are asked to perform them back through movement. This technique has been proven to significantly improve the gait and upper extremity function of participants. With a little internal rhythm, those suffering from Parkinson's or other motor disorders have been shown to speak and walk much better.

So get your dancing shoes on and start showing off your moves...in addition to having some fun and improving your physical health, you just might enhance your mental health as well.