Pole dancing classes boost women’s mental wellbeing, study finds

Pole dancing, often associated with stereotypes, has transcended its exotic dance roots and emerged as a fitness phenomenon. New research published in BMC Psychology indicates that this unique blend of strength, flexibility, and expressive movements can notably enhance women’s mental wellbeing and aspects of their sexual self-concept.

Traditionally, dance has been acknowledged as a form of art, self-expression, and emotional release with recognized positive impacts on physical and psychological health. However, therapeutic aspects of dance, especially unconventional styles like pole dancing, have only recently gained attention.

“While previous studies on dance therapy have focused mainly on traditional and expressionistic dances, newer forms of dance with ultimately different techniques have been widely neglected so far. One example of such new dances is pole dance,” explained the authors of the new study, led by Jalda Lena Pfeiffer of MSB Medical School Berlin.

In this study, 50 female participants with limited pole dancing experience were recruited through social media and fitness studios. Divided into a pole dance group and a control group, the participants engaged in eight weeks of specially designed sessions, adapting to individual capabilities and the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Results from the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale indicated that the pole dance participants experienced increased mental wellbeing, endorsing statements such as “I’ve been thinking clearly” and “I’ve been feeling optimistic about the future.” These findings align with qualitative studies suggesting the empowering nature of pole dancing.

The study also delved into sexual self-concept, revealing substantial improvements in the pole dance group. Participants reported heightened sexual self-efficacy, decreased sexual anxiety, and increased sexual self-esteem and body appreciation. Notably, these positive effects were specific to certain psychological aspects, as there were no significant changes in global self-esteem, sexual motivation, or sexual consciousness.

In essence, pole dancing, once relegated to stereotypes, has proven to be a transformative activity, offering not only physical fitness but also significant mental and sexual health benefits for women.

The study, “Effects of pole dance on mental wellbeing and the sexual self-concept—a pilot randomized-controlled trial“, was authored by Jalda Lena Pfeiffer, Setia Kati Sowitzki, Thomas Schäfer, and Frank Euteneuer.

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