Promoting positive physical activity for young people

Dance, like any sport, is a valuable way to increase a young person’s level of physical activity, and with that comes many health benefits. Within my dissertation study (The Impact of delivering dance through youth work programmes), I had the opportunity to explore this in more depth and gain a broader vision of the impact as professionals we can make to a young person’s physical health. The Better Health Channel (2018) states that “Dance can be a way to stay fit for people of all ages, shapes and sizes; it’s benefits include;

-improved condition of your heart and lungs

-increased muscular strength, endurance, and motor fitness

-increased aerobic fitness

-improved muscle tone and strength

-weight management

-better coordination, agility, and flexibility

-improved balance and spatial awareness”

Understanding these benefits;

As a dancer who has grown up and witnessed for myself the physical benefits of my own dance experience, and has since gone on to shape my professional career around such activities… I have built an in-depth knowledge of these factors and feel passionately about the importance of providing them within the community; however, I was keen to get an insight into how many of these impacts were truly being recognised within our participants. We may see progress within dancers on the outside, but it should not stop there. Progress should be acknowledged, felt, and appreciated on the inside, by those who are working hard to achieve it.

Going into my research, I was not prepared for all young participants to have a broad understanding of the physical benefits associated with dance, especially as the physical benefits within youth activities are not always spoken about so openly in a youth session, and instead acts as a subconscious benefit. However, the young people who participate in G-Expressions provision, do, and can recognise and appreciate the physical benefits dance has brought to their lives.

“It has helped with my fitness and health a lot”

“My physique has got a lot better as I am getting into a routine, doing more.”

“It helps me stay active and feel good about myself and my body”

“I joined the team as I wanted to join something to help me get more active.

In my last blog (How can we act as the positive?) I explored the concept of dance acting as a tool kit, which primarily allows us to have a much deeper impact on young people than may show on the surface. If you ask me what I do for a job, I wouldn’t tell you that I support young people in improving their muscle tone and strength, but ultimately that is something which can be achieved through the support and enrichment provided by organisations such as G-Expressions and the activities being made available to young people.

Appreciating the impact our work has;

By acknowledging the deeper benefits of such activities, similarly to how the young people are already one step ahead in doing so, as professionals we can gain a clearer and more purposeful understanding and appreciation to the role we hold in the community; and the impact our work has in getting young people up and moving and ultimately in making healthier and more positive life choices.

For more information around supporting young people’s mental health, or for signposts to resources for professionals, please see the suggested reading list below;