Hello there Dance Fam!
Hope you’ve been having a wonderful September so far. I know I have. But let’s get right to today’s post. I thought to share with you some cool health benefits I enjoy, and you can too, thanks to dance! Definitely a nice mash up of my biochemistry side and dance experience. And without any further ado, let’s get right to it!
1. Burn Fat / Lose Weight / Increase Metabolism
All styles of dance make for great cardio workouts since your heart rate gets challenged from executing the different moves. We all know that to take charge of our weight, we must regularly exercise and keep physically fit. Dancing is often a low-impact aerobic activity that burns fat and can boost your metabolism. In just thirty minutes of dance, you can burn between 200–400 calories — that’s roughly the same amount as running or cycling! Burning an extra 300 calories a day can help you lose between ½–1 kilogram a week (and THAT can add up quickly). In fact, some studies have found that dance as exercise is just as effective for weight loss as cycling and jogging. Dance training is also an excellent form of maintenance exercise, to stay healthy and toned once you’ve reached your goal weight. And since dance is so much fun, you’re getting these benefits without feeling like you’re working out!
2. Increase muscle strength and endurance
Dancing contributes to the build-up of muscle strength because the act of dancing forces a dancer’s muscles to resist against their own body weight. The use of quick steps, lifts, twists and turns, help you develop more muscle strength in your arms, legs and core as your lessons continue. Endurance (in this context) is the capability of your muscles to work harder and longer without succumbing to fatigue. Dancing as exercise is particularly effective at building up your endurance — so as you work on your dance steps, you are conditioning your muscles to perform these feats with less and less fatigue. And the added benefit is that you’ll look and feel strong, toned and fabulous.
3. Better coordination, agility & flexibility
Most dance classes will typically begin with a few stretching exercises, to get you prepped to execute dance steps with comfort & ease, and to protect you against dance-related injury. If you are a beginner dancer, you will especially notice that the more you dance, the more flexibility and range of motion your body develops. Increased flexibility helps your dance abilities, decreases joint pain and muscle soreness after exercise, and improves core strength and balance. Personally, yoga and ballet stretches have been extremely beneficial dance warm-ups. Over the years, I can attest to a massive improvement in my flexibility and the more I keep at it, the more flexible I get.
4. Improves cognitive performance
Studies have found that dancing is linked to a lower rate of dementia. In addition to the mind-boosting increase in blood flow to the brain that you get during any form of physical activity, researchers suspect that memorizing dance steps and staying in sync with the rhythm of the music promotes the growth of new neurons and activates connections between existing ones. Dance class can foster new connections and nurture existing relationships, both of which have been linked to a lower risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s. And who wouldn’t jump at the chance at reducing their risk of developing dementia as they get older? Pretty good deal, I think!
5. Strengthens Bones
A pleasant way to increase bone mass and improve muscle strength, dancing can be especially helpful for those at risk for low bone density. Certain dance steps, especially those that get you moving from side to side, improve the strength of your tibia, femur and other leg bones — which bear the majority of your body’s weight. By building up your bone mass, you can ward off or slow down the progression of osteoporosis. And who doesn’t want strong bones as they get older?
So, have I convinced you to sign up for that dance class just yet? Do you struggle with a gym membership and have been looking for an alternative to stay fit? You guessed it! Dance might just be your answer. Let me know how it goes if you do sign up for that class.
Until next time,
Love & Light,
The Dancing Biochemist.