Tango for Health
The health benefits of tango are well documented, not only on a physical level for exercise and keeping the body fit but on a deeper level having a transformative effect on physical and mental well-being . Dancing reduces stress levels, increases serotonin levels and cognitive functions. Whilst this is true for all dances, studies have shown this to be particularly so with Argentinian Tango.
Dancing Keeps You Young
Tango is primarily a walking dance, integrated with giros (turns) and pauses. As a dancers’ tango vocabulary increases and they begin creating more complex movements so does their mobility, balance and core strength gained through a natural organic process. An upright relaxed posture creates space within and awakens body awareness.
Dancing tango well requires mindful control of the body which is accomplished by activating and releasing muscles to achieve a desired movement. Students find that they gain greater body control, not only when dancing tango but in day to day life due to increased muscle tone and strength as well postural alignment, balance and flexibility.
Cognition - Powering up the Brain
Dancing tango provides an avenue for learning new skills. It has been said that the essence of intelligence is making decisions and tango dancing requires split-second, rapid fire decision making. This results in several brain functions being activated at the one time, thus increasing neural connectivity. Furthermore tango is an improvised dance based on a technique that is precise and challenging. Added to this are further challenges of partnering another person, executing movements to a broad range of tango music (tango/vals/milonga) and navigating the dance floor. Switch on the brain and power up new neural pathways, dance tango!
Spirituality and Mindfulness
It is almost impossible to dance tango without being focused on the present task at hand. There is no time to ruminate about other concerns or troubles. The power of the embrace is very strong.
Purposeful dancers want to learn steps in a way that is graceful, effortless and synchronised with their partner. This promotes meaningfulness and focus - being in the present moment. It also requires being mindful of those around us taking into consideration our partner’s feelings and skills as well as those of the other dancers on the floor.
Tango is often expressed as a holistic activity inducing a state of flow and spirituality. Above all else, tango is about communication and connection with another person.
Social Satisfaction and Emotional Health
As a partnered dance, tango requires engaging with another person. Working together towards a common goal with a sense of connectedness and understanding. Students find enjoyment and fulfilment throughout the learning process, building self confidence along the way. As a dancer achieves a new level there is a sense of achievement and satisfaction which can be shared with fellow dancers.
Learning and mastering tango offers a platform for meeting new people within the tango community and engaging in the social network. The very nature of dancing tango relieves stress and anxiety promoting a sense of well-being.
Most importantly dancing tango is fun.
Tango and Parkinson’s Disease
Research has shown that dancing tango can help to relieve the symptoms of Parkinson's disease and other physiological disorders, in a manner that was greater than with the same amount of other regular exercise. Patients given tango classes have shown improvements in balance and other measures not seen another groups of patients given regular exercise classes. The researchers have said that while dance in general may be beneficial, tango uses several forms of movement especially relevant including dynamic balance, turning, initiation of movement, moving at a variety of speeds and walking in differing ways.
The effect of the embrace, in conveying new social and cognitive awareness is seen to be very beneficial to general health and well being. Tango addresses not only the physical but also the emotional difficulties which can be felt by people with Parkinson’s as being part of a the tango community can help to provide inclusive social interaction. Research into Parkinson’s disease and other physiological disorders continues on many levels, in the meantime we have something positive on which to build and provide relief.
Further reading - related articles:-
Of all the activities studied, cognitive and physical, dancing was the activity which had the greatest risk reduction for dementia.
Reading – 35% reduced risk of dementia
Bicycling and swimming – 0%
Doing crossword puzzles at least four days a week – 47%
Playing golf – 0%
Dancing frequently – 76%.
Step into the healthiest happiest activity …..dance and if its Tango dancing even better.