Whether for cardiovascular fitness or better mental health, the joys of dancing are harnessed to present it as an alternative for people who hate sports
Not everyone likes sports. Many people find gyms unpleasantly macho, and the added sweat, bad smells, and hygiene issues are also reasons people cite for not using them. Running and other outdoor activities are always an option, but there are also very valid safety concerns: harassment by motorists, poor lighting, bad roads and the high levels of noise and air pollution in our cities. Yoga has grown tremendously in popularity, but many people find it too slow for their liking.
But despite these stumbling blocks, it remains true that one should exercise, and people are well aware of this today, thanks to increased awareness and a relentless marketing campaign by wellness brands that focus on health and wellness. Fortunately, for people who are not into running, yoga or gyms, dancing is one of the most fun and enjoyable options.
“Dance is an incredibly enjoyable activity that sets it apart from other fitness formats. When we combine simple yet engaging movements with great music, the experience becomes not only entertaining but also hugely rewarding in terms of health benefits,” said Shwetambari Shetty, a fitness expert at Cult.fit. Given the sharp rise in obesity in India, dancing as a form of exercise could be very helpful in weight loss.
After all, it is a very effective aerobic activity that improves our cardiovascular fitness, says Pooja Sharma, a dancer and choreographer from Bengaluru who is training for a personal trainer certification. “Dancing also benefits us in many ways, depending on the intensity and dance style,” she adds.
While dancing can be excellent exercise, some dance forms are more popular than others. In India, Bollywood, salsa and Zumba, as well as belly dancing are becoming more popular every day. Shetty and Sharma both believe the benefits of dancing go far beyond improving your overall health.
“Dancing improves balance and coordination, improves physical control and agility. It is also a proven mood enhancer and provides relief for those dealing with anxiety and depression. In addition, dancing promotes improved mobility and flexibility, allowing greater freedom of movement,” says Shetty.
One of the greatest benefits of using dance as a fitness activity is its freedom and flexibility. And no matter how old you are, everyone can dance. “I keep telling people ‘age is no barrier’ when they say ‘I’m too old for this’. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced dancer, dance is for everyone,” notes Sharma.
If you want to make dancing your primary fitness activity, it’s important to add variety to get the best results, advises Sharma, who highly recommends belly dancing. “Not only does it help you focus on strengthening your core muscles, but it also boosts your confidence and puts you in touch with your feminine energy,” she says.
Shetty says dance workouts should be supplemented with strength training, just as runners, cyclists, and swimmers do, in addition to their primary workout. “Strength training is crucial to developing the muscle foundation needed to excel and enjoy dancing for years to come. In order for your body to support and endure the demands of dancing over time, it is essential to focus on building and strengthening your muscles through weight training or resistance training. It allows us to perform dance moves efficiently and also reduces the risk of injury,” says Shetty.
Shrenik Avlani is a writer and editor and the co-author of The Shivfit waya book on functional fitness.
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