Is Belly Dancing a Workout?
Belly dancing is an ancient art form that has become a popular form of exercise; it is low impact and can burn up to 400 calories per hour while working numerous muscle groups. Additionally, belly dancing routines can be tailored to fit the needs of individuals who have physical limitations or disabilities.
Belly dancing targets the deepest layer of muscles in the stomach known as the transverse abdominis; the complex movements associated with this type of dance work to strengthen and tone these muscles. The oblique muscles, which are located in the sides of the abdomen, are stretched and toned during the hip circle movements done during belly dancing. Another part of the abdomen that is toned is the rectus abdominis, commonly called the six pack muscles and located in the lower front of the abdomen. The toning effect occurs during the vertical and horizontal undulating movements as well as during two specific dance moves known as the camel and the belly roll.
Back and Hip Muscles
Belly dancing is also beneficial in strengthening the back muscles; the repetitive, gentle hip circles and rotations seen throughout this type of dance are effective in loosening lower back muscles as well as increasing the flow of natural lubricant to these areas. The commonly underused small muscle groups located in the back are also toned and strengthened during belly dancing thus leading to lessened back pain and improved posture. The hips are another muscle group frequently used during this type of dance; the constant movement of the hips can lead to increased flexibility and improved balance.
Upper Body and Lower Body Muscles
Shoulders and arms are frequently used in belly dancing, circles or rippling motions may be done with the arms as well as doing lifts; the toning effect resulting from arm use can generally be seen quickly as the arms are constantly being used during belly dancing. In the lower body muscles, belly dancing movements use the hamstrings, gluteus maximus, and quadriceps to stabilize the body as it moves in circles and while moving the hips. This allows for a great lower body workout without risking stress to the joints or impact to the knees and ankles. Belly dancing is also considered a weight bearing exercise, which adds the additional benefits of increased bone strength and osteoporosis prevention.
Getting the Best Workout
To ensure the best workout from belly dancing, an individual should utilize a full range of rotation and undulation maneuvers; this level of belly dance can be achieved by taking higher level classes and with consistent practice. Additionally, during belly dancing it is important to isolate certain areas of the body for movement while keeping other areas still. Focusing on one area of the body at a time in this way can increase the benefit for targeted muscle groups. It is also important in belly dancing to ensure that form and movements are done correctly; when posture, form, and movements are done effectively the workout can offer greater benefit.
Belly Dancing and Disabilities
Belly dancing is favorable for those with physical limitations as it offers a multitude of different dance moves to choose from. Many movements are available that are less complex and challenging than the more difficult moves; this makes it easy for an individual to create a routine to fit their personal needs. Belly dancing is also a very adaptable form of dance due to the fact that it involves little stretching and balancing. For individuals who do not have use of their legs, chair belly dancing is an available option.
Belly dancing offers a great workout by targeting the major muscle groups and providing the benefits of a traditional workout with fewer risks. This type of dance is a highly adaptable form of exercise that can fit the needs of individuals with disabilities by offering a multitude of different options.
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