Dancing

Published by Sarah Horrocks
Published on 18 September 2008

Dancing isn't all ballet and leotards any more: more accessible and varied forms of dancing are great forms of exercise with multiple benefits.

History

Dancing is innate to humans; it’s in our blood. All we need is music and our bodies move to the rhythm.

The first evidence of dancing is prehistoric, and throughout the centuries and civilisations, what started out as a ritual has become an art and a form of entertainment. Dancing was extremely coded and regulated, but it's now liberal: today we dance in dresses, jeans, tracksuits, baggy trousers, barefoot, in trainers or heels, in the street, in stadiums or at the gym, to anything from dance to folk to African music.

Types of dancing

There are many types of dancing, all different, inspired by various types of music, ethnic origin, culture and sport. Here are the most common:
- Ballet
- Modern
- Jazz: (tap, shimmy, Charleston etc)
- Ballroom dancing (tango, bolero, waltz)
- World dancing (salsa, rumba, zouk, bachata, merengue, lambada, biguine, mambo, Oriental, African, capoeira)
- Rock (rock, twist, Madison)
- Dance (disco, techno, break dancing, street dancing)
- Folk dancing

The benefits
- Dance is more than just a physical activity: it's a way of expressing your feelings and emotions using your body. It’s a great way of learning to accept your body and be more confident.
- It develops balance and coordination all over. Your feet, legs, hands, arms, chest and head all have a role to play.
- You burn calories without realising it, and a lot too: 250 to 500 calories per hour, depending on the speed and intensity. Dancing also burns your fat reserves, as it usually lasts for longer than 30-40 minutes.
- You get a nicely toned body all over. Great control is required, and all the muscle groups are used. The result? Firm abs, long, lean thighs and calves, a shapely bum, toned chest, strong back and arms.
- It improves your posture and grace. You have to check your position and movements constantly, making your muscles and nervous system adopt good posture all the time.
- It strengthens the body all over. Dancing can be considered an endurance sport: it strengthens the cardio-vascular system, develops lung capacity, improves circulation, and strengthens the bones and joints.
- It’s fun and relaxing, because you forget everything and let go.

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