Busting some moves on the dance floor could improve symptoms of mild mental health problems in teen girls, a new study suggests.
Swedish researchers found that girls who were enrolled in twice-weekly dance classes showed more improvement in self ratings of their health compared to girls who didn't take dance classes.
Researchers found that the improvements were long term and lasted months after the classes ended, according to the study published Nov. 12 in the journal Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.
"Dance is a well-established and popular form of physical activity, particularly for young women," the researchers wrote. "It can provide a supportive environment and an opportunity to enhance low body attitudes and physical self-perceptions."
Lead researcher Anna Duberg of the Center for Health Care Sciences and her team studied 112 girls between 13 and 18 who had "internalizing problems". Researchers defined "internalizing problems" as having a depressed mood, low self-worth or persistent feelings of tiredness. However, researchers said that patients diagnosed with "internalizing problems" do not have symptoms that are severe enough to warrant psychiatric care. Researchers noted that previous studies show that an increasing percentage of adolescent girls have "internalizing problems".
Half of the participants were randomly assigned to take part in 75-minute dance classes held twice a week for eight months during each of the first two years of the three-year study. During the dance classes, the girls created their own dance routines and the girls' mental health problems were not discussed in the dance classes.
Duberg and her team examined how each girl rated her own health on a 5-point scale before the classes began, and three times during the study.
Results of the study found that the girls in the dance classes improved significantly more than girls in the control group in each of the three follow-up self-ratings.
Furthermore, researchers found that 91 percent of the girls enrolled in dance classes rated them as a positive experience.
Researchers are unsure as to exactly why a dance class may have improved the girls' health. They suggest that the participants who took part in dance classes may have experienced an improvement in symptoms because the classes may have been enjoyable, undemanding and didn't bring pressures that school can bring. Researchers suggest that the dance class may have also allowed the girls to develop a sense of ownership because they provided input into the music and choreography of the classes.
Researchers noted that the social aspect of the dance class is also very important in improving symptoms. In the dance classes, the girls had an opportunity to make new friends and spend time doing activities they enjoyed.
Other studies have linked other physical activities with improvements in teen self ratings of health.
"This study points out the role of joyful social physical activity in influencing health," the researchers wrote.
Published by Medicaldaily.com