Move your body—it's good for your mind
What’s better than a workout that strengthens your whole body? One that also boosts your mood.
“Our culture has a terrible mind-body split,” says Donna Newman-Bluestein, a dance therapist at the American Dance Therapy Association. Dance, which allows you to move your body and tap into your emotions at the same time, can improve your mind-body connection. The result: You’ll tone your arms, legs, stomach, and back while also tuning up your mood.
Start by dancing at home. Put on some music when you’re getting ready for your day or doing chores around the house, and let yourself move to the music the way you feel. You don’t have to worry about exact steps or being embarrassed in front of anyone. Remember the saying: "Dance like nobody's watching."
Try a dance class. You can often find free or low-cost classes in your area by checking out community or cultural centers or searching online. Here are four great types of dance classes to fit your mood. How you get your body moving isn't important. What counts is getting your muscles in motion and your heart rate rising.
Looking for a quiet class with structure? Ballet, which emphasizes technique and grace, may fit the bill. You’ll start by learning basic positions for your feet, then learn how to connect them together in a series of graceful movements. Because you’ll move slowly, ballet-like motions can be a good option for people with joint pain.
For a calming experience that also gives you the freedom to express yourself, try modern dance. You’ll focus on alignment, range of motion, and breathing. Like ballet, you’ll learn some basic positions, but modern dance is often less structured.
If you want to work with a partner, give tango a try. You’ll move to lively music and learn detailed footwork. Salsa and samba are other great Latin-inspired options.
West African Dance
Need a boost of energy? Check out a West African dance class. This type of dance focuses on full-body movements set to uptempo rhythms, often provided by live drummers. Dancers typically perform in a circle or line, so you’ll also benefit from a sense of collaboration or teamwork.
Talk to your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.