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What Are the Health Benefits of Belly Dancing?

You know how much fun belly dancing is. Perhaps you’ve been performing, and you get what a rush that is. You’re probably also aware at least on some level that it’s exercise and, therefore, good for you. However, did you know just how good for you it is? Turns out, it’s quite good.

 

Study about the Health Benefits

Clalit Health Services in Israel published a study in 2011 about the general health benefits of belly dancing. The study, which was published in the Israeli Journal of Family Practice and outlined in Haaretz, detailed the effects of belly dancing on nearly 129 women. Interestingly, the average age of the respondent was 49 years old.

Over 40 percent of the respondents had lost weight through belly dancing. They had to visit their family physician less frequently. According to the study, 53.6 percent of the women visited their family doctor every three months before taking up belly dancing. That number dropped to 7.3 percent after participants started taking belly dance workshops.

The workshops took place over the course of a year and included two hours of belly dancing every week. Participants’ general health assessment improved at the end of the year, and their body mass index decreased.

Muscle Benefits of Belly Dancing

One of the conclusions drawn from the study is that its benefits the body because it resembles natural muscle movements. As you work on your abdominal isolations or hip drops, that may not seem to be the case. However, many of the movements resemble physical labor associated with harvesting fruits, mixing dough and serving food. So, technically you could get some of the benefits from going cherry picking and baking a pie from scratch, but do you really have time to do that every day?

Likewise, the majority of the muscles get used in the rhythmic dancing, which explains why you sometimes feel sore after a class or practice. Because of that, belly dancing is a pleasant method for working out.

Cardio Benefits of Belly Dancing

It’s generally held that seven core movements make up belly dancing:

  • Shimmy
  • Lifts and drops
  • Slides
  • Circles
  • Twists
  • Figure 8s
  • Undulations

While some of these are more aerobic than others – think shimmies – they all have the potential to get your heart rate elevated. This elevation speeds up your metabolism, which in turn helps you lose weight.

The pleasurable exercise of belly dancing also reduces your stress level. That, of course, reduces your blood pressure. Such reduction is good for your overall health.

The Israeli study looked at women who were belly dancing for at least two hours a week. How much dancing is necessary for you to receive the health benefits? The Mayo Clinic suggests healthy adults get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise every week. That’s 2 ½ hours. If you take an hour long class and practice for 30 minutes three times a week – which you should do anyway to improve your skills – you’ll be right within the guidelines.

What health benefits have you experienced from belly dancing?

Photo credit: Health o'Wealth

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