Synchronized dancing boosts pain tolerance

Dancers performing Swan Lake

The idea that dancing as a form of exercise can increase endorphin levels in the nervous system isn't new. Performing coordinated dance moves as a group can have a similar effect, researchers suggest. 

Jack Devant/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Five, six, seven, eight! All together now, let’s spread those jazz hands and get moving, because synchronized dancing improves our tolerance of pain and helps us bond as humans, researchers suggest October 28 in Biology Letters

A team of psychologists at the University of Oxford taught high school students varied dance routines — each requiring different levels of exertion and synchronized movement — and then tested their pain tolerance with the sharp squeeze of a blood pressure cuff. Statistically, routines with more coordinated choreography and full body movement produced higher pain thresholds and sunny attitudes toward others in the group. 

Coordinated dancing with a group and exerting more energy may independently promote the release of pain-blocking endorphins as well as increase social bonding, the team writes. 

Helen Thompson is the multimedia editor. She has undergraduate degrees in biology and English from Trinity University and a master’s degree in science writing from Johns Hopkins University.

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