A screenshot of Ian's Zoom-ba session. On the bottom right corner, Ian is mid-dance. The other views are ASL interpeters.

The Many Benefits of a Living Room Dance Workout

Our community has prioritized the lifelong physical and mental well-being of the people who live here. During The Collective, I was privileged to lead a virtual Zoom-ba session celebrating physical activity as an important piece of our wellness. I cleared space in my living room, balanced my laptop expertly on my cat’s scratching tower, cranked up the music (neighbors were forewarned), and danced my heart out for twenty minutes with folx I couldn’t see or hear. 

It felt a bit odd at first but after it was over, I felt energized, endorphin-ized, and ready to tackle the rest of my workday. 

This connection between physical activity and mental health—this chemical reaction that occurs when our bodies move—can be easy to forget. Especially now, when it’s sometimes difficult to find the energy to put on pants in the morning—much less exercise regularly. 

When I was asked to lead a Zoom-ba session for The Collective, I was scared that I would not be able to. During the pandemic, my activity level has plummeted. The ensuing lethargy has made it challenging to find motivation to do many things. How could I exercise and get my heart rate up when I didn’t even want to get up from my couch? How could I teach a dance class when I felt so…blah?

This connection between physical activity and mental health—this chemical reaction that occurs when our bodies move—can be easy to forget. Especially now, when it’s sometimes difficult to find the energy to put on pants in the morning—much less exercise regularly. 

I decided to challenge myself. I began practicing dance routines in my living room during the weeks leading up to The Collective – getting my creaky, inactive joints back in motion. In doing so, I was reminded just how good it felt to MOVE. I began to feel better – physically and mentally – and even started looking forward to dancing the afternoon away in preparation. 

My goal in telling this story is to emphasize the beneficial connection between physical activity and mental health and to share how (re)incorporating exercise into my daily routine resulted in a positive change in my attitude and mental state. 

Now, like perhaps no time in recent memory, we are experiencing the effects of extended and continuous stress. Feeling disoriented, exhausted, and listless have become commonplace for many of us. I often forget what day it is. And sometimes my brain feels like a static-y TV set. 

If you’re feeling like this, too, I’d like to offer a suggestion: just move. Consider the kinds of physical activities you enjoy and then devote time to doing them 3 times a week for 15 minutes. That’s only 45 minutes a week in total. Set a reminder in your phone, get up and then do it. 

It doesn’t have to be a full-on HIIT workout with kettlebells or jump ropes. It can be something as simple as a few yoga stretches on the floor, or some sit-ups, or maybe taking a walk around the block. For me, it’s dancing to K-pop in my living room and putting on a private concert for my unimpressed cat. 

You can get creative with your activities! Run up and down your stairs a few times, do some squats while holding your baby (or your adolescent, for an extra challenge), try your hand at a TikTok dance, or explore a new neighborhood on foot. 

After just a few minutes of exercise, I can feel my spirits rise with my heartbeat. Even if it is literally the last thing I feel like doing, moving my body makes me feel better every time.

I hope it does for you, too.

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