Beyond burning calories, dancing has been proven to increase social bonds, improve memory, and boost your mood
To every person who's ever watched Watch Me Whip/Nae Nae, closed their bedroom door, and given it a try: Science says you're awesome (as do we). And also, keep doing it—according to a rocking new study from the University of Oxford, dancing is as healthy for you as it is fun.
Whether you're dropping it low, raising the roof, or doing the Cupid Shuffle like it's 2007, your mind and body are benefiting. Dancing improves your pain tolerance, increases your social bonds, and boosts your mood. In the study, researchers broke 264 children into two groups: One group was taught a dance using full-body movements; the other was taught a series of hand gestures (finger dancing, if you will). The children performed their dance with their group or by themselves. Those who did either type of dance with their friends saw an improvement in several health markers. But those who did the higher-exertion full-bodied dance saw a much larger endorphin rush (Try one of these 5 Dance Classes That Double as Cardio Workouts). These endorphins reportedly lowered stress, thereby improving cardiovascular and mental health, and helped create stronger social bonds.
There's just something powerful about moving to music. But according to the study's lead researcher Bronwyn Tarr, Ph.D., the magic of dance isn't just that it gets you moving. Specifically, exertion combined with "synchrony"—or dancing in time with a group—give dance health benefits beyond those reaped from regular cardio like running. (Give it a go with Olivia Wilde's Crazy-Fun Dance Workout). In addition: A Duke University study found that learning choreography helped improve memory and a Stanford study found dancing makes you smarter.
Zumba and hip hop cardio not your thing? Look for exercise that includes choreography, moving to a beat, or involves a group of people all doing the same thing (think: any number of fitness classes including BodyPump, kickboxing, flow yoga, or step aerobics). Or just hit the club with the ladies! Just make sure you're on the dance floor, not being a wallflower.