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date: 16 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Dance is a social, creative form of human activity impacting on wellbeing through emotional involvement in active or passive participation at all levels of mastery. Dance as a physical activity can potentially improve health physiologically, psychologically, and socially. Despite a recent surge in dance-related research, the authors believe that this area of human behaviour is still relatively unexplored. Here, therefore, they examine possible mechanisms that may contribute to the ‘feel-good effect’ of dance participation by emphasizing its positive as well as its potentially detrimental effects, taking the physical activity literature as a starting point. They address biochemical, brain neurotransmitters, cognitive–neuroscientific, and psychological mechanisms that are thought to explain the impact of physical activity in wellbeing, and discuss functional and structural brain changes that are linked to participation in dance. They conclude by highlighting the need to increase research to better recognize the potential risks and benefits of dance in improving health and wellbeing.

Keywords: brain, cognitive neuroscience, exercise, neurotransmitters, physical activity, social connectedness, wellbeing

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