Dancing and the Benefits for Psychological and Cognitive Health

Written by: Sonja Cornes (Accredited Exercise Physiologist)

Dance is a diverse type of physical activity that has been a fundamental part of human expression, used for celebration, storytelling, and social interaction. Short form dance routines have recently gained popularity with the emergence of TikTok.

TikTok has seen an explosion of fun, creative, and collaborative dance routines that has amassed billions of views and posts related to trending routines.


Dancing is an engaging way to move our bodies, but did you know that dance can also have significant benefits for psychological and cognitive wellbeing too?

A recent systematic review has been published by Australian researchers examining The Effectiveness of Dance Interventions on Psychological and Cognitive Health Outcomes.

The review included 1392 participants aged between 7-85 years old with a range of health conditions including Parkinson’s Disease, heart failure, cerebral palsy, fibromyalgia. Dance interventions were diverse including theatrical, social, traditional, and aerobic dance.

The Key Findings were:

  • Structured dance completed for at least 6 weeks can significantly improve psychological and cognitive outcomes similarly to other exercise interventions.
  • There is early evidence that dance may also be better than other physical activities in improving mental wellbeing such as motivation, distress and depression.
  • Furthermore, dancing in older age groups has shown to have additional cognitive benefits!

We know that 75% of the Australian population aged 18-64 are not meeting physical activity and strengthening guidelines. This trend increases with increasing age. These findings support dance as a mode of physical activity that can similarly accrue health benefits compared to other types of physical activity.

It gets our heart rates up, involves learning and remembering dance sequences to keep in time with music, and is a great way to develop social connections and a sense of community.

For many, dance is a familiar form of physical activity that is a fun, engaging, and socially interactive and supportive form of movement.

Finding a mode of physical activity that we enjoy doing is important in creating lifelong exercise habits. If we enjoy what we do we are more likely to stick to it! So next time you’re in the clinic show off your dance moves!!


Fong Yan, A., Nicholson, L. L., Ward, R. E., Hiller, C. E., Dovey, K., Parker, H. M., … & Chan, C. (2024). The Effectiveness of Dance Interventions on Psychological and Cognitive Health Outcomes Compared with Other Forms of Physical Activity: A Systematic Review with Meta-analysis. Sports Medicine, 1-27.