Dance your way to fitness

Aerobics and dance exercises (Zumba) are the best group exercises that you can get involved in for motivation. PHOTO/COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • Dance as a form of exercise is good for both children and adults and for people of all body types and sizes.
  • While pursuing dance for fitness it is advisable that you look out for more intense types of dance such as salsa, zumba, rumba or aerobic dance. 

One of the greatest pleasures of life is music. While all manner of creatures are capable of creating music, humans have the ability to create to boundless heights of its complexity and beauty. And in most cases, the better the music the more we are inspired to dance to it. 

Emotional health
Because dance comes from a place of joy deep in our hearts, dancing brings out the best in us. Studies have shown that dance is very good because it eliminates stress, lessens depression and improves confidence in the dancer. This is known on an intuitive level by most human beings and this may explain why all celebrations across all cultures around the world include dance. 

For its emotional benefits, dance is also a trusted way to get fit according to experts and studies. The advantage with dance is that you do not have to be fit or flexible to dance. It is not like swimming or riding a bicycle which demand that you must first learn how to do it before you can reap the benefits of it. In fact, you do not even need a natural rhythm. With dance workouts, you can build fitness, flexibility, and coordination, all while moving to the beat of your own drum, while you are having a great time.

Physical health
According to Dennis David, the proprietor of The Dance Studio Uganda, dance is a form of physical exercise that can be taken on by both the children and adults as well as people of all body types and sizes. 
“In children, dance can help develop discipline and focus. This is because it is a mental exercise. It helps to improve creativity, body posture and rhythm in both the youngsters and adults alike. Dance ameliorates a child’s sleep and they are able to become early risers, which is a desirable thing,” David says.

He adds that in adults who desire to get fit or trying to lose weight, dancing, if it is done regularly is capable of toning ones muscles and reduce body fat through sweat. 
“Aside from the fact that dance is a true source of happiness, through meeting new friends and learning new dance moves, dance increases muscle memory,” he says.

Due to the repeated moves, dancing can create muscle memory, a process that allows your body to remember certain motor skills and perform them without conscious effort.

According to research, muscle memory is important to fitness because if muscles have been trained in the past, they seem to develop a molecular memory of working out that lingers through a prolonged period of inactivity, and once we start training again, this “muscle memory” could speed the process by which we regain our former muscular strength and size.

“Dance improves not just your muscles, it also improves posture and confidence in both children and adults as result of the feel-good effects of dance,” David says.

Dancing can be a way to stay fit for people of all ages, shapes and sizes. 
Other benefits improved heart and lungs health, increased muscular strength, endurance and motor fitness, increased aerobic fitness, improved muscle tone and strength, weight management, stronger bones and reduced risk of osteoporosis, better coordination, agility and flexibility.

Dance can also improve balance and spatial awareness, increased physical confidence and promotes brain health and improved mental function. On top of all these physical psychological benefits, dance is capable of imparting better social skills to the dancer.

Which dance is best?
According to Better Health Channel, while pursuing dance for fitness, it is important that you look out for the more intense types of dance, such as salsa, zumba, rumba or aerobic dancing. These are known to give your body a more vigorous workout that is similar to jogging or swimming laps. You can burn up to 500 calories an hour with these types of dances, according to experts.

They are very versatile and easy to incorporate into your fitness schedule. However, if you feel that the vigorous dances are too hectic for you, you may chose the lighter ones for the start and thereafter progress with the intense ones with time. 

The workout you get from dance depends on the type of dance. For example, experts say that ballroom dancing will give you a moderate workout comparable to the same level of exercise you would get from brisk walking. 

Dance studios, may not be as many as the gyms, they can be found in major towns with some effort. Fortunately, many gyms also have aerobic dance sessions which means, one doesn’t have to find a dance studio to get fit.