If you want to shake your blues away and lose a few kilos in the process, then check into a dance class. Yes, dance is an excellent form of exercise that is emotionally and mentally satisfying!! It can give you a “high” not unlike what junkies feel when they take a shot or a puff. Except that, in this case, it is a natural “high”, not drug induced.
When you exercise, endorphins are released from your brain that produces this “high” effect. As the pulse rises, and the heartbeat increases while dancing, the body also begins to manufacture its own pain reducer, known as the “prostate gland inhibitor”, which makes you feel absolutely great.
Dance is hard, rigorous but interesting, challenging, exciting and sometimes frantic. Many dance enthusiasts feel that dance as a workout is fun and creative. Additionally it burns calories, and keeps you in fit form. A well-known danseuse, who swears by dance for fitness and good mental health, says “People always think I’m younger than my age. I think that’s what dancing does to me. Makes me feel and look younger and better. Modern living means that we spend hours at eh office table and drink umpteen cups of tea and coffee. This is enough to keep us stress-infected, and dance is an excellent way to de-stress ourselves. When home, I just switch on the music and let myself go.”
A few hours of dancing classes a week can work for every person. It can work off their inner turmoil and do wonders for their well-being. Even if one does not join a dance class, simply switching on the music and shaking oneself can do the magic. But a dance class makes one regular and more coordinated.
Dance not only improves cardiovascular strength and physical agility but also corrects your posture and develops a grace and elegance in your general demeanour. Besides, it is not monotonous like aerobics, which turns your face scarlet and makes your heart beat vigorously.
Dance is also a great way to instill discipline in your character. To show up religiously for classes and to practice and perfect the various dance positions and routines require a substantial amount of dedication, self-control and will-power.
There is an enormous variety of dance classes available for people of all ages. Salsa, Samba, Rumba, Disco, Ball-room dancing, Arabian Belly-dancing, Merengue, Free-Style, Cha-Cha-Cha, Quicksteps, Live swings, Rock and Toll, ballet dancing and jazz, not to mention our very own classical Indian dance forms like Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Kuchipudi, Odissi and Mohiniyattam are just some of the dances popular among people.
Dancing is one of life’s greatest joys. You can control your body to move expressively and artfully according to your own wishes. However, you must be patient, for strength, coordination, balance and grace develop gradually.
As in any other exercise routine, stretching and warm-ups are important before you start. Work out wisely, and do not push your body too hard.
Your range of motions will increase with practice. By becoming involved in one of the most active of performing arts, you can enjoy the physical challenge, relish the added dimension to your mind, and as you go along, develop a trim and healthy body.
By using African dance throughout your pregnancy, you can greatly enhance your childbearing experience by strengthening the bond between you and your baby. It helps in learning how to focus inward to connect with the growing spirit within your womb, and focus less on how greatly your body and life are changing. The rhythm of the drums of
Africa connects you with the rhythm of your baby’s heartbeat. Read more about it here and here.
As always, please be aware of your limitations and check with your health care provider before attempting any form of exercise, especially if it is a new activity. If you feel any discomfort of any kind, stop.
Dancing offers these health benefits:
- Calories: Dancing can burn as many calories as walking, swimming or riding a bicycle. During a half-hour of dancing you can burn between 200 and 400 calories. In one study, researchers attached pedometers to square dancers and found that each person covered 5 miles in a single evening. (Also read Shape up in 4 weeks)
- Cardiovascular conditioning: Regular exercise can lead to a slower heart rate, lower blood pressure and improved cholesterol profile. Experts typically recommend 30-40 minutes of continuous activity 3 or 4 times a week. Dancing may not provide all the conditioning. You need, but it can help. The degree of cardiovascular conditioning depends on how vigorously you dance, how long you dance and how regular you are.
- Rehabilitation: If you are recovering from heart of knee surgery, movement may be a pat of your rehabilitation. Certain dance forms could be positive alternatives to aerobics or jogging.
- Strong bones: The side to side movements of many dances strengthens your weight-bearing bones (tibia, fibula and femur). Dancing also slows down loss of bone mass (osteoporosis).
- Sociability: Dancing contains a social component that gives you an opportunity to develop strong social ties. This contributes to self-esteem and a positive outlook.
Like any other form of exercise, one must do some warming up before dancing away to health. The goal is to get the blood circulating and generate heat throughout your body.
- While standing, rotate your ankles in a circle. Circle clockwise and counter-clockwise. Repeat on both sides.
- Stand with your feet, hip distance apart. Bend your knees and relax your shoulders. Place your hands on your belly, and sway your hips from right ti left. Feel whatever rhythm you are moving to.
- Lift your shoulders up and back. Rotating them in small circles, squeeze them in small circles, squeeze your shoulder blades together, and then drop. Repeat 15 times.
- Open the chest and loosen your shoulders by moving your arms in a circle. Repeat 15 times.
- Open your chest and loosen your shoulders by moving your arms in a cirle. Repeat 15 times.
Dance is an ideal way to keep fit and stress-free. One dance teacher, who conducts several dance classes and whom I personally know rightly puts, “Dance is better than walking alone or spending hours on the treadmill. Dance is rhythmic and carries with itself, laughter.”
So start your fitness session and keep yourself looking great and feeling good all year round.
(Guest Post by Vinita K.)
(Guest Post by Vinita K.)
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