Dance involves movement of the body rhythmically to music. There are many different styles of dance, which can be performed alone, in a pair, or in a larger group.
There are many ways in which dancing might help to improve mood.
There is a small amount of evidence to suggest that dance can be helpful for depressive symptoms. Some studies have found that dance can be an effective treatment for depression, while others have found that it had no effect.
Four studies of reasonable quality have looked at Tango, Rumba, Ballroom and Turkish Folklore Dancing. Two studies showed that dancing had a positive effect on depression. These involved Tango and Rumba. The two other studies found that there was no difference in depression symptoms between people who had taken dance classes and others who had not.
One review has looked at the use of dance movement therapy for depression, which is a type of therapy that combines dance and psychological techniques under the guidance of a therapist. The review found that there was not enough good quality evidence to determine whether dance music therapy was an effective treatment for depression.
Much more research is needed to understand the effectiveness of dance for depression.
Some dance styles can be more strenuous than others. You should choose a style that is appropriate to your fitness levels. Some dance classes may be costly, but there are free alternatives.
Dance classes are offered through dance studios, fitness centres and community groups. If there are no dance classes available in your local area, you should be able to find tutorials online for a wide range of styles. Dance Movement Therapists can be found on the Dance Movement Therapy Association of Australasia website.
Dancing can be recommended as a positive lifestyle activity but more research is needed before it can be recommended as a treatment for depression.
Last reviewed and updated: 1 November 2019