The health benefits of physical exercise and dance
How to harness the power of dance for better health
Taking part in physical exercise offers many health benefits including better physical fitness, a better ability to manage weight and the reduction of stress levels. When we hear the word ‘exercise’ though, it can sound like a bit of a chore. It doesn’t have to be this way though. By finding a movement workout you love, you are more likely to make it part of your regular routine and, rather than being something you feel you have to do, it can soon become something that you actually want to do. One of the best ways to stay active, is simply to dance!
Why is dance so beneficial to health
Dancing does so much to benefit both our mental and physical health. Aside from being a great way to burn calories, it helps boost your self-esteem and train your brain and your body’s motor skills. Studies have shown that the areas of the brain responsible for skills and memory can actually improve with exercises like dance.1
Different types of dance to try
From group workouts to online fitness classes and even just jumping around the house with no one watching, there’s nothing more enjoyable than turning on some music and feeling your whole body move to the beat. Whether you’re a professional dancer or have never really given dance a go before, there are plenty of ways to introduce it into your life, and plenty of dance style to try.
Zumba was created by the Columbian dancer and choreographer Alberto Perez during the 1990s and took the world by storm around a decade ago – it is still one of the most popular group fitness classes available today. Based on loud, Latin music and flowing, salsa-type movements, a Zumba class is an energetic way to have fun and burn calories at the same time. It looks like it requires a good level of coordination but Zumba is totally suitable for beginners and as long as you’ re willing to shake your hips you will be just fine.
A combination of an eclectic mix of different rhythms, cultures and dance styles – with an emphasis on salsa, as the name would suggest. Salsation aims to improve your overall strength and flexibility as well as increase your body’s range of motion by providing a choreographed, group-led movement workout that, like Zumba, is more focused on fun and is suitable for anyone. The two dance disciplines are similar but they have different techniques and Salsation is more interpretive of the music, with salsa being used alongside everything from Latin music to African music.
Developed during the Italian Renaissance, and then evolving into a concert dance in Russia and France, a ballet is choreographed against classical music and is a highly technical form of dance that is studied professionally across the world. Many start ballet as children, but there are also adult ballet classes for beginners who missed out as a child.
Ballroom has had a resurgence in popularity, with ballroom-inspired group fitness classes like ‘fit steps’ being introduced in gyms around the world. There are two subgenres – standard ballroom and Latin, and a number of different dances within them including the waltz, tango, foxtrot, quickstep and samba.
Drawing on a number of dance styles ranging from classical to modern and jazz, contemporary dance was developed during the mid-twentieth century and is now one of the most popular and technical forms of dance studied and performed professionally.
Hip-hop and street dances date back to the early 1970s and include a number of sub-categories, such as breakdancing. It’s often performed outside and, unlike many other forms of competitive dance, regularly features improvisational dance moves developed on the spot, rather than practiced repetitively.
Whatever your taste in music, your preferred style of dance and your age and fitness level, there is a type of dance that will be able to provide you with a great movement workout. Above all else, dance should be fun! So, whether it’s as part of a group fitness class or dancing around your own front room with no choreographed moves whatsoever, give dance a try and reap the health benefits of physical exercise in a fun, enjoyable way.