Dancing in time with others raises pain threshold, researchers report

October 28, 2015, Oxford University

A team from the University's Experimental Psychology and Anthropology Departments wanted to see whether our feelings of social closeness when dancing with others might be linked to endorphins – the body's 'feel good' chemicals.

Endorphins are neurotransmitters that form part of the brain's pain control system, but they are also implicated in . Dr Bronwyn Tarr explained: 'Dance is an important activity around the world, and it could be a way to connect with other people and feel socially bonded. We wanted to see the effect of high and low energy, and synchronised and unsynchronised had on both pain threshold and the sense of bondedness to fellow group-members.'

'As it's hard to measure endorphin levels directly, we used pain thresholds as an indirect measure. More mean we tolerate pain better, so measuring relative increases in people's pain thresholds can indicate whether endorphins are being released.'

The team had 264 young people take part in the study in Brazil. In groups, they did either high or low exertion dancing that was either synchronised or unsynchronised. Before and after the activity, the team measured the teenagers' feelings of closeness to each other and their pain thresholds.

The findings confirmed that synchronised activity encouraged bonding more than unsynchronised activity. It also led to higher pain thresholds. More energetic activity had a similar effect – it raised pain thresholds and made groups feel closer.

'Both synchronisation and exertion had independent effects on these measures, so moving energetically or moving in synchrony can both make you feel closer to others when you are dancing' explained Tarr, 'But combining high energy and synchrony had the greatest effects – which might explain why people love to Flashmob!'

Explore further: Pulling together increases your pain threshold

More information: Bronwyn Tarr, et al. Synchrony and exertion during dance independently raise pain threshold and encourage social bonding Biology Letters DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2015.0767

Related Stories

Runner's high linked to cannabinoid receptors in mice

October 6, 2015

(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers from several institutions in Germany has found a link between cannabinoid receptors in mice and what is commonly known as "runner's high." In their paper published in Proceedings of ...

Recommended for you

Scientists set eyes on Neanderthal 'brain'

April 26, 2018

Scientists have for the first time set eyes on a three-dimensional Neanderthal brain in the form of a virtual model made to fit the empty, fossilised skulls of long-dead individuals, a study said Thursday.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.