In preparation for Halloween, I am thinking about the scariest movie I ever saw. OK, it is a tie between Event Horizon and The Exorcist (and a close third is Nightmare on Elm Street). But I felt like last night I was a woman possessed. Like a revival tent, I shook and shouted and sang my way back to emotional stability.
An exorcism involves driving out (an evil spirit) from a person or place. An exercise involves activity requiring physical effort, carried out especially to sustain or improve health and fitness. I would say that last night on the dance floor, amid swirling disco lights, I achived both.
There are many forms of dance, but the simplest way to start is tapping your toe. Nodding your head "Yes," is an affirmation. Shrugging your shoulders as if to say, "nobody's watching." Then start marching in place. Loosen up your torso. Roll your head. Wave your arms. Kick. Jump. Listen to the music.
"Lowered heart rate, better sleep and lower cortisol levels — a signifier of reduced stress — are all responses to listening to music. 'Accepting that compulsion to move, and not only that, but going with it and completing that cycle. Instead of just modelling it in your mind , you are actually … bringing that to life through your body.' "
Research in small studies has observed "positive effects from the music therapy, including positive trends in improved memory, lowered levels of stress hormones and improved caregiver reports for neuropsychiatric symptoms such as irritability and depression."
Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) is only beginning to reveal how music and dance recruit our whole brain, which in turn rewards us with dopamine. Music "activates pleasure and reward-related regions of the brain" so go ahead and shake a tail feather.