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Fitness First in the way of Dance


We've finally come to terms with the fact that the season of indulgence is over and we need to get up, get motivated and get fit to lose those extra Christmas pounds and start the year off as we mean to go on.

Apart from booking our summer holidays (see last week's blog) January is traditionally the time for new fitness ventures, detoxes and healthy living. All too often though the well-intentioned start to the year wanes somewhere around mid-February and by Easter we're surrounded by chocolate temptation and more celebration.
So we've come to the conclusion that we need something sustainable; a form of exercise that we actually enjoy enough to continue throughout the year and beyond. Something more than just a way of shifting a few excess pounds or reaching a level of fitness - something we can call a lifestyle choice. And, perhaps as an added bonus, something to change our routine and boost our social life.
This something is dance. We all know that moving our bodies and exerting energy is good for us but did you know that dance has specific and far-reaching health and fitness benefits? The unique way in which we use our bodies for dance (varying from style to style) strengthens all of the following areas:
1. Flexibility is an important part of being healthy and dance requires a great amount of flexibility. Most dance classes begin with a warm-up including several stretching exercises. Dancers strive to achieve full range of motion for all the major muscle groups. The greater the range of motion, the more muscles can flex and extend.
2. Dancing builds strength by forcing the muscles to resist against a dancer's own body weight. Many styles of dance require jumping and leaping high into the air. Jumping and leaping require tremendous strength of the major leg muscles. And imagine the strength a male ballroom dancer needs to lift his partner above his head!
3. Dance is physical exercise which increases endurance, the ability of muscles to work hard for increasingly longer periods of time without fatigue. Regular dancing is great for improving endurance, especially vigorous dancing such as line and ballroom. Elevating the heart rate can also increase stamina.
4. Dancing is a social activity. Studies have shown that strong social ties and socialising with friends contribute to high self-esteem and a positive outlook. Joining a dance class and taking a dance holiday can increase self-confidence and build social skills. Because physical activity reduces stress and tension, regular dancing gives an overall sense of well-being.
Whether you choose the more obvious dance-fitness workouts like Zumba or Masala Bhangra, sociable ballroom dance or the Latin rhythms of salsa or Kizomba, dance cannot fail to boost your fitness and well-being, as well as your social life.