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Dancing for Fitness

by Grace Sianna

Brush off those dancing shoes because dancing is the new way to get fit. Dancing is not only a form of cardiovascular exercise, but it works the entire body. Plus, it’s so much fun, you won’t even know you’re exercising! Dancing isn’t just for young women either; anyone of any gender at any age can learn how to dance for fitness. Turn the music up and look at the different styles of dancing for fitness.

Benefits of Dancing for Fitness

  • Improved Endurance – Dancing regularly improves muscle endurance. Your muscles are going to work for three to four minutes straight, which will raise heart rate and stamina. This may prevent fatigue as well.

  • Improved flexibility – There are reasons dancers are known for being nimble. Many styles of dance require a wide range of motion, allowing for total body flexibility. With all the leaping and prancing, your joints and muscles will thank you.

  • Stronger bones – This is probably not what you initially think about dance! Dance may protect and improve bone density by preventing osteoporosis. It promotes calcium absorption into the body’s bones as well.

  • Dancing for FitnessImproved mood – Along with physical benefits, dance reduces stress. Endorphins that promote happiness will be released to boost your mood. Dancing is also exciting and fun, so you’re guaranteed to crack a smile at least once!

  • Improved mental/social skills – Dance improves memory because it forces you to remember the steps and patterns of a routine. This could benefit the older crowd who begin suffering from memory problems. Alongside that, you can meet new friends at a dance class and chat in between songs.

  • Improved balance – Even though you aren’t directly working your abs, you are strengthening your core! Dance stabilized the core muscles for balance and protection against injury. Reflexes and coordination are also strengthened by dance workout.

  • Better blood – Dancing for fitness helps control blood cholesterol levels in the blood. It helps stabilize blood sugar levels as well. If you have high blood pressure, you might want to turn to dance.

Types of Dance: Beginner

Slower and low-impact types of dance are good for older people. Other conditions such as arthritis, pregnancy, and anything that weakens the muscles, joint, and heart merit beginner styles. These main two styles are ballroom dancing and ballet.

Certain ballroom dances include the waltz, tango, cha-cha, and the foxtrot. Ballroom dancing is great for couples because it both promotes fitness and bonding. It can be nostalgic for older people, and they may even remember how to do some of the moves. Many studios host ballroom dancing classes for competitive and recreational use.

Ballet fitness classes won’t consist of leaps and turns, but instead, ballet-inspired moves that consist of stretches and stationary movements. There may be some dancing and music involved, but posture and balance are the main focuses and disciplines of this workout. You can use a chair or barre for support if you struggle with holding your balance.

Other beginner styles of dance include lyrical, contemporary, and line dance.

Types of Dance: Advanced

If you keep up with fitness trends, you’ve heard of Zumba. Zumba is a fitness program created by Alberto “Beto” Perez, a Colombian dancer and choreographer. This type of dance combines Latin styles such as salsa, cha-cha, and merengue with high energy movements set to upbeat music.

Even though Perez created this exercise program in the 90s, it is still popular today in 2018. Most every gym offers Zumba classes, led by an instructor. A typical Zumba class will feature the instructor at the front of the room performing the dance combinations. Don’t worry; these steps are often easy and repetitive throughout the song. Your instructor will help you modify movements or answer any questions.

Dancing for FitnessAnother intense style of dance is hip-hop cardio. This style is like Zumba, but it is a bit more advanced. Hip-hop cardio combines hip-hop movements, or sometimes even street dance or break styles, with cardio movements. The cardio moves incorporated into routines can be as intense as squats and burpees. Needless to say, this type of dance works up a sweat and can either be taken as a class or on YouTube (there are many results for hip-hop cardio).

Other advanced styles include modern jazz, freestyle, and acro-dance.

Necessary Gear

  • Proper footwear – The correct footwear is essential for dance and depends on the type you plan to do. For Zumba and hip-hop, wear sneakers. Look online or at dance stores for specialty shoes if you want to do ballet or ballroom dancing.

  • Attire – For Zumba and hip-hop, regular gym clothes consisting of a t-shirt and shorts should do the trick. Don’t be intimidated by leotards in ballet class; men usually wear t-shirts and long pants. Ballroom dancing may require more formal wear depending on the studio.

  • Water – As with any exercise, you need to stay hydrated. Even for lower intensity styles of dance, you may start to sweat. Instructors will often pause the class for a water break. Bring a bottle of water and refill as necessary.

  • Mats – This is particularly relevant to hip-hop cardio and stretching after class. If you’re performing moves on the floor, you want to have a mat underneath you. The thickness of the mat will support and protect your body and the floor with extra cushioning. Just move the mat out of the way once you’re finished with the routine.

  • Gym membership – Bring your ID card to the gym. Some classes are walk-in while others might require you to sign up in advance. Make sure you know what the class you want to take entails before putting your name down as well; take heed of all guidelines and warnings.

You don’t need to endlessly run or pedal on the gym machines for a cardio workout. Not only does dance burn calories, but it comes with lots of other health benefits. With a variety of dance styles, you can choose your level of hardness. Dance is lots of fun so you no longer have to dread a trip to the gym. In the famous words of the Bee Gees, you should be dancing!

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