Health Topics

Healthy Living

January 2010
Bellydancing for a Workout
Nutan Sehgal
Feeling low? Need to lose weight and don't know how to go about it? Try belly dancing. It's feminine, it's sensual and it brings out the curves in you

If you wanna shake your blues away and lose a few kilos in the process, then check into a belly dance class. Yes, dance is an excellent form of exercise that is emotionally and mentally satisfying! Make a new beginning this year to stay in shape, especially if you're finding those gym and aerobic routines getting boring with their monotonous repetitions.

Belly dancing can give you a "high" of the natural kind. It is a vigorous physical activity that burns calories the way no other exercise does. Hollywood stars like Paris Hilton, Catherine Zeta Jones and Beyonce Knowles attribute their heavenly figures to belly dancing. Columbian singer Shakira has given a Salsa twist to belly dancing and has earned a worldwide following.

Belly dancing is catching on in India as well. A number of young women are attending classes, or simply learning from DVDs and discovering the innovative way of getting into shape and looking physical. The high-energy dance form demands concentration, physical movement and a keen sense of timing. Anjul Sharma, a design engineer says, "I've learnt belly dancing not to become a titillating performer but to make my workout fun and creative. It burns calories and keeps me in fit form. People always think I'm younger than my age. That's what dancing does to the figure. It makes you feel and look younger and healthier."

Modern living means sedentary lifestyles, hours at the office table and umpteen cups of tea or coffee. All these can add to stress. "Belly dancing," swears Anjul, "works as an antidote. It is an excellent way to de-stress yourself. When I come back from work I just switch on the music and let myself go."

Shapely Body
A few hours of belly dancing a week can do wonders. Besides relaxing you, it will keep you fit by burning off your excessive calories and giving you a shapely body. Even if one does not join a dance class as such, simply switching on the music and shaking a leg or two can do the magic. But the advantage of a dance class is that it will make you regular and more coordinated. Belly dancing not just improves cardiovascular strength and physical agility but - especially for women - it also corrects their posture and develops a grace and elegance in their demeanour.

Vigorous dancercises have an added advantage over the monotony of the treadmill and aerobics. It is an inspired art - since no two movements are the same. Also, it does not make the heartbeat sound like a muffled drum or make the face turn scarlet with exertion. Belly dancing, in fact, gives the skin a healthy pink glow and helps improve the posture and gait, apart from providing cardiovascular benefits.

Video Lessons
In case you do not like to go to a formal class, but still want to learn belly dancing, there are a host of videos to help you wiggle to a shapely self. There's Jillina's Shape Up n' Hip Out Belly dancing DVD, Atea's Belly Dancing Video, Belly Dancing With Delilah, Renee's Magical Belly Dancing and many more. They all promise to put you through the paces of this amazing dance form that has its roots in countries like Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon and Morocco.

In belly dancing the first thing you learn is to control your body to move expressively and artfully. However, you must be patient, as coordination and balance develop gradually. As in any other exercise routine, stretching and warming-up is important before your start. Do not push your body too hard. Let your range of motions and stamina increase with practice.

Benefits of Belly Dancing
Calories: Belly dancing burns as many calories as walking, swimming or riding a bicycle. During half an hour of vigorous dancing, you can rid your body of around 500 calories.

Cardiovascular conditioning: Regular belly dancing leads to a healthier heart, lowers blood pressure and improves cholesterol profile. Experts typically recommend 30 to 40 minutes of continuous dancing three or four times a week.

Strong bones: The vigorous movements strengthen weight bearing bones (tibia, fibula and femur) and also slow down loss of bone mass (osteoporosis).

Rehabilitation: If you are obese and need to lose weight fast, belly dancing is a positive alternative to aerobics or jogging.

So go ahead, dance away your blues with this belly good way of dancing! 
  • The information on this site does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for medical care provided by a physician.
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