Belly Dancing Workout

Belly dancingIf you’re bored with the treadmill or the cross trainer and desperate for a reprieve from the repetitive aerobics classes why not try belly dancing.

Before you can scoff at this latest fitness fad, belly dancing has been around since the late 1990s but has only taken off in recent years. Originally used by women in the Middle East as a way to prepare for pregnancy and birth, they have been reworked for those looking for something else in their exercise regimen.

Belly dance classes offers a distinctive form of exercise for those looking for a healthy and not boring alternative to traditional fitness exercises. The dancer uses many muscles in the body in flowing, expressive movements. There are several basic body moves that work either in unison or in any combination.

The moves consist of hip shimmies, hip rotations, serpentine arms, snakelike head movements and abdominal undulations. The abdominal undulation is the foundation of belly dance. The hip rotations and shimmies gently and repetitively move the body’s joints and ligaments in the lower back and hip areas.

Once a student learns the undulations of the abdomen and pelvis, other parts of the body are added, such as the arms, chest, shoulders, head and neck. The arm and shoulder lifts, circles and snake motions work the upper body.

Belly dance is considered a non-impact, weight-bearing exercise, which is especially good for women, since it can reduce the risk of osteoporosis. There is minimal stress on knees, shins and feet. Depending on the rhythms of the music and the repetitive body movements, participants can increase breathing and raise their heartbeat, which can assist in building cardiovascular strength. Research has shown that belly dancing can burn up to 300 calories per hour.

Another benefit of belly dancing is the calming effects it can have on the body and mind. The concentration that is required aids in reducing stress, and participants can "let go" and forget about all the other things in their lives. Typically, individuals carry stress in their head, neck, shoulders and back areas; belly dancing gently exercises and stretches the muscles in these areas.

But the most important appeal of belly dancing is that you don’t have to be rail thin to participate. It’s one of the few dance disciplines where a few extra pounds around the middle aren’t a problem. In fact the traditional belly dancer has ample hips and a voluptuous shape. You can also practice belly dancing while doing your housework.

The exotic and sensual have always fascinated the most jaded gym rats. Belly dancing doesn’t seem to be a fad that will be fading any time soon and many women can say amen to that.