Doctors prescribing ballroom dancing? You bet!

Could the dance studio replace the pharmacy on your doctor’s prescription pad? Maybe.


At Fred Astaire Dance Studio, we’ve always known that dancing can be a great addition to anyone’s journey toward better health. Now it looks like doctors are actually being allowed to prescribe “therapeutic art or hobby-based treatments” for a wide range of conditions… at least in the United Kingdom.


It’s all a part of a new initiative launched by British Health Secretary Matt Hancock. The initiative means physicians can add things like dance classes, art, music, sports, gardening and more to the treatment plans for patients suffering from various conditions such as dementia, lung problems and mental health issues.



Social Prescribing

The somewhat unconventional strategy is known as “social prescribing” and it’s all a part of a larger preventative health plan. The health benefits of programs like dance have long been documented.


Studies have shown that ballroom dancing can be linked to a decrease in blood pressure and cholesterol, increased weight loss and lung capacity and improved cardiovascular health and balance and stability. And it’s not just the physical benefits either. Research has found that ballroom dancing improves mood and mental health.


Dancing can help enhance memory, alertness, awareness, focus and concentration, researchers have found. And in Sweden, researchers found a marked decrease in stress, anxiety and depression in teenaged girls who took up dancing.


Secretary Hancock hopes the options will help British doctors slow the practice of “over-medicalizing people.” He says the emphasis is on prevention. “We’ve been fostering a culture that’s popping pills and Prozac, when what we should be doing is more prevention and perspiration,” he said in a speech late last year.


Rumba as Research

If you think about it, it just makes sense. The simple act of moving your body and stretching your muscles is going to make you feel better. Even a short session of salsa dancing will have you sweating, so weight loss (and the lowering of cholesterol that should follow) makes sense. A pulse-pounding performance of the jive will have your heart racing, so is it any wonder that you’ll see cardiac improvement? We think not.


And when you’re taking ballroom dance lessons at Fred Astaire Dance Studio, you’re among friends. It’s one of the best aspects of ballroom dancing. We offer a supportive, low-pressure class environment where you can get to know other people who have some of the same interests as you. The British program considers social prescribing as part of their overall “loneliness strategy.”


“We should value the arts because they’re essential to our health and wellbeing,” said Hancock. “Access to the arts improves people’s mental and physical health. It makes us happier and healthier.”


Dance or Drugs

Will dancing or other hobby based programs replace medications? Probably not, says Johanna Rain, Program Director for the Mayo Clinic Center for Humanities in Medicine. “I think it’s a fairly brilliant forward move,” she said. “Can art replace medicine? No. Can it enhance it? Absolutely.”

Want to know more about what ballroom dancing can do for your health? Call your local Fred Astaire Dance Studio today!