Health & Body

Do Dancers Have More Self-Control?

Matthew Murphy

We're always thrilled when science confirms yet another benefit of dance. Now, the latest research from the University of Kansas is giving us one more reason to pat ourselves on the back: A surprising new study suggests that exercise may increase self-control—like the ability to make healthier food choices, avoid temptations (like that $200 pair of shoes you know you don't need) and make smarter life decisions.


While the research involved walkers and joggers, it easily translates to other types of physical activity. Yes, we mean dancing. According to the study, the more you exercise, the more self-control you have. That means dancers, whose daily grind involves class, rehearsals and cross-training, likely have a lot of self-control.

Still, it gets better: This positive side effect of exercise seemed to stick around for a month after research participants lessened their physical activity. For dancers, that means you can probably obsess less about what happens during breaks and layoffs. Sure, you may ease up on your diet and exercise regimen during time off, but the self-control gained from all those company classes and yoga sessions will stick with you.

While researchers aren't yet sure exactly why exercise increases self-control, this is just one more reason to keep pushing through your taxing rehearsals. You're becoming a better dancer, a healthier person and you're building up mental stamina to make wise choices in and outside of the studio. It's a win-win-win.

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