Waltzing towards fitness

From a full body workout to a mental booster, ballroom dancing has several health benefits, making it a fun-filled fitness activity

By Zoha Tapia

Are you mesmerised by the twirls of the waltz or have the beats of the samba set your feet tapping? With various ballroom dance forms hogging the limelight on most dance reality shows, most of us aspire to glide across the dance floor in the same manner. Besides the beauty and grace, these dance forms are excellent for the fitness of your mind and body.

Working out your body

Did you know that one hour of rigorous dance practice can burn 250 to 400 calories?
Choreographer Sandip Soparrkar says, “While the slow dances strengthen your muscles and act as weight bearing exercise, the fast dances are equivalent to an intense cardio session.” Ballroom dancing consists of slow paced dance forms like the waltz, foxtrot and rumba; medium paced one like the tango and samba and lastly the fast paced ones like the Vietnamese waltz, jive or the Paso doble.

It’s not just an effective calorie burner but also a great weight bearing and flexibility exercise. “The forceful steps are weight bearing exercises while the extended leg and arm movements build the flexibility of the muscle,” says Soparrkar. In most ballroom dances, you are moving backwards unlike when you are on the treadmill or taking a brisk walk, thus working behind the thighs, hips and calves. For the flashy hand and leg movements, a strong core is essential, to maintain your posture and gait. So, as you suck in your stomach and keep your back straight while you glide and twirl, you are also working on your back and abdominal muscles.

For the injured and elderly
The elderly and people with joint problems are at times hesitant to try their hand at some of the moves, however, dancing is for all – all you need is a knowledgeable dance instructor and a good pair of dancing shoes. “Ballroom dancing is excellent for people with injuries. Beginners and people with back, leg or knee problems should start with the slow dances and then move on to the medium paced ones. The multidirectional dance movements help improve your joint health,” informs Soparrkar.

Brain workout
Are you refraining yourself from dancing because you have two left feet or coordination issues? In that case, dancing is apt for you. “Each muscle you are using is isolated from one another, hence helping you coordinate better. If you have balance or coordination problems, start with a slow dance and within sometime you will be able to perform the faster versions with ease. Studies have also shown dancing to be an effective aid for those suffering from dementia and meningitis.” 

Mental booster

Dancing breaks your mind free from the daily grind by transporting your mind into another zone. The twists and turns help release your feel good hormones – endorphins, ridding you of your stress and depression. As an added benefit, due to it being a social dance form, it puts you in a zone of social comfort and gets rid of your loneliness, along with boosting your self-confidence.

So, what are you waiting for? Put on your dancing shoes and waltz your way to good health.

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