The dancing queen: explanatory mechanisms of the 'feel-good effect' in dance

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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.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford handbook of dance and wellbeing
EditorsVicky Karkou, Sue Oliver, Sophia Lycouris
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages28
ISBN (Electronic)9780190655112
ISBN (Print)9780199949298
Publication statusPublished - 5 Oct 2017

Publication series

NameOxford handbooks
PublisherOxford University Press


  • Brain
  • Cognitive neuroscience
  • Exercise
  • Neurotransmitters
  • Physical activity
  • Social connectedness
  • Wellbeing


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