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Opening the Doors to Healthier and Stress-Free Living

A Column by Alice Abbott-Moore,
Content Access/Information Delivery Teams, Ekstrom Library

Music Makes a Happy Heart:
Dance for the Body, Mind and Soul

Almost twenty years ago, someone wrote, “Music makes a happy heart” in an autograph book that I had. At the time I had an inkling of what that statement may have meant. But over the years this statement has taken on far more meaning.

Can you imagine life without music? I can’t because music has been a steady part of my life for the past twenty-nine years. Music has been so important to me –from serious performance to recreation. Music is a wonderful gift. It can make a person forget his or her troubles for a while, relieves stress and/or just give pleasure.

Dance helps the body, mind and soul. It can be a wonderful way to help with getting good exercise for the heart. Dancing is a powerful release of emotion and energy. Not only is it a healthy alternative to traditional cardiovascular exercise, it also can help a person elevate moods and release emotions.

Dancing is probably my favorite thing to do. I tend to forget everything while in the act of dance. There is nothing like the high one feels when one jumps, leaps, does pirouettes, etc. I have enjoyed dancing ever since I can remember. Years ago in high school I had some friends suggest that I take ballet to strengthen my back. I had injured my back two years before after I fell off a cliff. I did as my friends suggested and took a ballet class. Not only did the class help my back tremendously, but also I found that I really enjoyed ballet. Occasionally through the years, I have been able to take some more dance classes including tap and modern dance. I also enjoy dancing to other forms of music—it is a challenge to see if I can dance to any kind of music. I tend to go to a dance and only come off the floor during the whole evening to get some water.

For some folks the thought of dancing in public is scary and may even deter them from getting out on the floor. I’ve seen such folks at dances—they may be the ones who are sitting at the tables, or fringing the walls looking at the dancers. If that sounds familiar, dance with friends who are non-judgmental. If that still is too much, dance in the privacy of your home. Aerobics classes are great places to dance. Chances are that no one will judge anyone who is there. Everyone is present for the same goal: physical fitness. Not only does one benefit from the physical movement of dance, but also from the natural opiates that are released just like in other forms of hard exercise.

Classes are a great way to start To learn how to dance. Also, classes are wonderful ways to meet new people and make new friends. Music is quite a connector of people, as you may already know. Get a friend to go with you to the class. If classes are not for you, friends are great sources from whom to learn steps.

Dance music can be intellectually listened to or it can just be enjoyed. When one is going through a difficult life experience, one can listen and dance to music for release. It can be cathartic to dance to music that expresses emotions. What a positive way to release feelings of joy, sadness and anger! Studies have found that different types of music play a big part in the reduction or elevation of blood pressure and stress. It all depends on the person and type of music involved. I have to say I find very few types of music offensive and I enjoy much of what I hear. But for others it may not be the same. Whatever your taste, find music you like, and dance to your heart’s content!

Anyone for Bowling?
If anyone is interested in forming a Library Bowling team for a league in the fall, please let me know by July 31, 1999. Please contact me at or 852-8719.