School of Sport and Health Sciences

Dr Nick Smeeton

Get off the sofa, turn up the music – and dance!

A University of Brighton exercise expert believes a good bop beats the isolation blues by increasing positive emotions while reducing negative ones.

“Dancing is good for you physically and mentally – it makes you happy,” according to Dr Nick Smeeton, Principal lecturer with the university’s Sport and Exercise Science and Sports Medicine Research and Enterprise Group.

“And at times like this, when we are mainly cooped up at home, it’s more important than ever that we keep our bodies in trim, our minds active, and our emotions positive.

“Pretty well everyone can do it – if we live alone or we can dance with friends and relatives using social media platforms.”

Dr Smeeton co-authored a study that showed dancing burns about 600 calories per hour, about the same as some forms of recreational swimming, cycling or jogging for the same period.

“Moving your body in so many different ways, changing direction, stopping and starting – it adds up to a pretty complete exercise regime. Something you can do at home.

“But just as important, researchers have shown that dancing improves mood, lowers stress, boosts feelings of energy and circulation and increases confidence.

“A 30-minute dance could be as beneficial to your body and mind as a session in the gym or on the track.

Dr Smeeton, his colleague Dr Gary Brickley and a team of researchers from the university’s School of Sport and Service Management, analysed a group of students aged 24 to 38.

Some 15 dancers from London’s City Academy took part in a series of dance classes during which researchers measured heart rate, distance covered, energy expended and psychological states. They took part in 30-minute sessions of dance from ballet to salsa, street and swing.

Dr Smeeton said: “Most people are aware of the ‘high’ that runners and other athletes get from exertion – now dances can experience it too. And it’s free.”

Read more about Dr Smeeton

Kerry Burnett • 26/03/2020

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