When I first saw the belly-dancing DVD in the store, I was absolutely thrilled. No, I hadn’t set out that day with workout DVDs on my shopping list, but this one looked like it was too much fun to pass up.
I’d heard of the benefits of belly dancing before: Improved muscle tone, improved balance and improved stress management. I knew that there would definitely be positive side effects to trying the routines. I had expectations, but they were limited. I just didn’t understand how something as simple as rolling my hips could make much of a difference in my physical fitness.
It turns out that rolling my hips made much more of a difference than I expected.
I’ve found that belly dancing activates muscles in the abdomen, pelvis, core and neck. It seems to relax the spine a bit, and as a result, has improved my flexibility. And because so many of the core muscles are involved, the dances have improved my posture and balance.
In addition, the effects of belly dancing have reached beyond the abdomen, back and pelvis. Because the arms are often held high during certain moves, I’ve also found that the muscle tone in my shoulders and arms has greatly improved.
And the dances offer more than just physical benefits. I’ve found that the soothing music and low-impact dance moves have the same mental effect as yoga. I’m able to listen to the music, follow along with the moves, and clear my mind all at the same time. It’s wonderful stress relief, as the workouts allow me an hour to escape the stressful events of the day.
In truth, I picked up the DVD just to find out what the workout would be like. I wanted to find something different to shake up my exercise routine a bit. What I found was so much more. I found something engaging, energizing and fun. I’ll definitely be keeping belly dancing in my workout repertoire.
Sandra Johnson is a former athlete and self-proclaimed “fitness freak.” She is always looking for new ways to satisfy her insatiable appetite for physical fitness. Follow her on Twitter: @SandraJohnson46