Thursday, 4 April 2013

Belly dancing my way to fitness: The health benefits of belly dance

First belly dancing class out of the way and I'm already feeling the results of shimmying away the calories. My posture feels stronger and I have to admit that my abs have a pleasant ache to them. It's nice to feel like my body is actually working!

Over the next 10 classes (and beyond!) I'm hoping to unlock the other health benefits of belly dance, such as:

1.) Reduced back and joint pain

Shimmies, back drops, circles and figures of eight work wonders at gently putting the joints and ligaments of the lower back and hip through the full range of motion. These repetive movements result in an increased synovial fluid flow - lubricating these joints. When done properly - with the pelvis tucked - you're at reduced risk of lower back problems. Improving the tone of these muscle groups not only improves your posture - it helps prevent the back pain which results from curvature of the spine which results from lordosis, or weak muscle groups.

2.) Stress reduction

When we are stressed, our bodies get tense - resulting in contractions in the neck, shoulders and back. This causes lactic acid to build up and reduces blood flow. By stretching and using these muscle groups while you are belly dancing, you increase this blood flow to these areas and help to flush out lactic acid. Instead of clenched, tense muscles, you will be limber and supple. In addition to its physical benefits, it reduces psychological stresses.

3.) Enhanced digestion

Work around the torso, such as belly rolls, encourage food to move through the digestive system more efficiently. While this is true of any form of exercise to some extent, belly dancing is especially good in this area.

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