Dance has been a part of human culture since time immemorial. It is true to say that man has danced, or moved to the rhythms of nature, before formal language existed. It promotes social binding and stimulates our senses. It can be magical and transforming, breathing new life into a tired soul or unleashing hidden creativity.
On a more physical level, dancing gives a great mind-body workout. It quickens our breath and increases our heart rate. It improves circulation and prevents oxygen starvation to the brain, thus helping to slow mental decline while enhancing brain power. As you learn to glide elegantly across the dance floor, you are improving your poise and grace while improving flexibility, coordination, balancing and muscle strength.
Regular dancing can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and cancer. And it certainly helps to keep us slim. Any form of activity helps to burn calories. It is estimated that a 150-pound adult can burn about 265 calories doing 30 minutes of moderate social dancing. Of course, this varies; a sprightly Latino-style dance session will burn more calories than a beginner’s belly dancing session.
Many dances forms are wonderfully relaxing. Whatever forms you fancy – from Bollywood routines to hip-hop moves to graceful ballet – dance is an easy and enjoyable way for people of all ages or with physical abilities to get and stay in shape. If you are afraid of having two left feet, just dance around the house. Otherwise, enroll in a dance class or join a dance club that meets regularly at different places. Ultimately, it is a great social activity for friends and strangers alike.
Ballroom dancing was recorded in the fifteenth century where there were a couple dances and professional dances in the Royal Courts as well as aristocratic homes. Bodily contact is limited to the clasping of hands though. It has since moved out of the courts and palaces in favor of any ballroom. Today, ballroom dancing encompasses the waltz, fox-trot, swing and various Latin dances.
Ballroom dancing brings a sense of grace and elegance to your life as well as a heart-pumping workout. Posture is enhanced as well as balance and flexibility. No doubt, this is a strenuous workout but at its most graceful and fluid.
This dance is considered low impact but it definitely has the ability to get your heart rate up. Forget the old country and western image; line dancing has since expanded its horizons and been given a funkier makeover. Line-dancers now move to soulful, country, rock, pop, and jazz or salsa music.
The swing, west coast swing, jive or boogie can be found in a line dance as well as their traditional partnered form. Even the fox-trot or waltz can be done in a line without a partner. Just remember that you are dancing to improve general health, find flexibility you never thought achievable, tone muscles and have the time of your life.
Belly dancing is great for balance and posture. This dance strengthens the back and the muscles of the pelvic floor. It gives a great workout toning the abdominal flab, hamstrings, thighs, abs and hips.
It is a great place to start for beginners because of the relatively slow moves. However, dance moves can be faster and more aerobic as you advance along the class, giving you a full body workout.
Many are already familiar with the salsa. What about cardio salsa for a more exciting workout? This Latin street dance is similar to the mambo, but faster, sort of a mambo-hustle mix. Wildly popular in nightclubs as well as health clubs, this form of dance fitness builds stamina, lowers blood pressure, improves cholesterol levels, releases toxins via sweating and helps with weigh loss.
Gone are the days when the mention of pole dancing would bring a smirk from the men and cause ladies to blush. Pole dancing has moved out of the strip clubs and in your local dance school. And this new fitness craze is not for the unfit. Good upper body and core strength is the key to success on the pole. Imagine: you are supporting most of your weight on only one arm as you try to propel yourself into a move or two.
The weaker ones, though, might want to opt for lap dancing which is equally good for toning the lower body. While there is one dance class that your partner would eagerly sign up for, he can certainly sit out on this one, pun intended. Ladies practice on empty chairs.
Dancing Off Those Calories
How many calories will you burn while dancing? That depends on the type of dancing. Here is a range of some of the most popular varieties, based on a 150-pound person, per hour:
Swing dancing: 235 calories/hour
Ballroom dancing: 265 calories/hour
Square dancing: 280 calories/hour
Ballet: 300 calories/hour
Belly dancing: 380 calories/hour
Salsa dancing: 420 calories/hour
Aerobic dancing: 540 calories/hour