Were your memories from growing up filled with long rehearsals, dance recitals and contentment you felt when the music was turned on? Of course, there was the stress of getting a routine down perfectly, the heartbreak when you did not make it to the dance finals and moments when you did not get alone with your dance partners, but the good memories outweigh the bad. Dancing when you were younger was not only an extracurricular activity, but a way of life. Here are some benefits of growing up as a dancer:

1. They know it helped boost self-confidence and self-esteem

It has been proven that dancing helps raise your self-confidence by allowing you to overcome any internal obstacles you have about being able to perform. Dancing improves your levels of self-confidence because you had to perform in front of a crowd. Your levels of self-confidence in accomplishing this task by not how well you do in comparison to others, but solely being able to do a few moves from memory.

Self-esteem is closely related to self-confidence, but differs in that it is the regard that you view yourself with instead of being measured about how well you perform a task. Being able to successfully do a dance number boost helped both your self-confidence and your self-esteem, something that is highly valuable growing up.

2. They know it takes a unique combination of athletic ability and artistic talent

Professional dancer Shanna LaFleur said “it takes an athlete to dance, but an artist to be a dancer.” This statement rings true with you, because you always thought it was hard to define what a dancer was. In some ways were not just an athlete, but also a person with an artistic disposition. Dancing required physical stamina, but also creative interpretation. You experienced your fair share of physical injuries, but you also remember the times when you felt mentally stimulated due to the strong artistic requirement it takes to be a dancer. You know dance is not just a sport, but an art form because it helps convey emotions and tell stories in a creative medium.

3. They know it helped alleviate stress

Dancing allowed you to tap into your own creativity. Through this expression, you became more at ease with yourself and relieved any stress you might be holding onto. It was a great form of therapy, because you got to dig deep into your own personal experiences and express them creatively through movement. George Balanchine, one of the 20th century’s most famous choreographers, is known best for his wide range of emotions that he wove into his pieces.

In a study done by Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, Swedish researchers observed 112 teenage girls who were dealing with issues including back and neck pain, stress, anxiety and depression. Half of the subjects went to dance classes and the other half did not. The results showed a clear correlation with the girls who danced, stating that their mental health improved and that there was a boost in their mood, which lasted up to eight months after the classes ended. After an especially hard day at school, you remember how dancing helped you forget all your troubles the moment the music turned on and you started to move.

4. They know it aided in sharpening cognitive skills

Dancing was great for your brain because it engages different areas, including emotional, rational, kinesthetic and musical regions. The New England Journal of Medicine conducted a study that measured various recreational activities on mental acuity as you age. Dancing was the only physical activity that helped prevent dementia by a whopping 76 percent. It turns out that dancing not only allowed you to be in better shape, but also made you a better student.