Incorporating the Benefits of Dance into Your Fitness Routine

This post is brought to you by Raphael Konforti, the Fitness Education Coordinator for Youfit.

You don’t have to shake it like Shakira to get the benefits of dance.  Dance isn’t everyone’s forte, however we can all benefit from adding some dance principles into our routines.  Dance incorporates a lot of important fitness elements that tend to be left out with the typical gym exercises.  Step right into these three components to being healthy and happy:

Rhythm and Timing

Dancing well means great rhythm and timing.  Right off the bat it’s easy to spot a great dancer, visually we see how effortlessly and flawlessly they move.  The same goes for the avid gym goer.  When someone performs an exercise we can tell if their body is comfortable with a movement and goes fluidly.  This isn’t just about looking the part in the gym, it’s a huge indicator of the body’s health.  If the body is out of alignment due to tightness or weaknesses, it shows up right away.  Performing a movement with great rhythm means the exercise will provide the most benefit and will keep your body healthy rather than leading it down a dangerous path to injury.  

Make it Happen

Next workout, rather than going through the motions see if you can focus on feeling your body move and try to make every exercise as smooth and graceful as possible.  You’ll feel better and get more results from the workout.  

Move It All Around

In dance and in life we’re never standing in one spot; we’re stepping out of our imaginary bubble in all sorts of directions.  Modern life has lead to our movement primarily only moving directly in front of us.  The body is magnificently built to do so much more, to explore our surroundings from all different directions.  Dance has us moving in every direction, going side to side, twisting turning and rarely staying stagnant.  While it’s smart to start with very linear and controlled exercises, the body loves to move in all different directions.  Exercises that move laterally or rotationally help correct imbalances, postural alignment and activate dormant muscles that have taken a back seat.  It’s the age old saying of “I didn’t even know I had muscles there”.  It’s also a great mental challenge to keep things fresh and exciting.  

Make it Happen

Challenge yourself to do a workout where you don’t just move forwards and backwards, add in lateral and rotational movements like in the July Workout of the Month.   

Heart Rate Ready

Another great part about dance is that it challenges the heart to different cardiovascular levels.  Dance classes have periods of high and low intensity but very little rest.  Keeping the heart rate elevated for at least 30 minutes a day have been proven to help lower chronic disease risk factors.  The body benefits yet again from training at various heart rate levels and dance does just that.  The high intensity fast moving  interval like parts of a song raise the heart rate very high.  So high that the body can’t keep up so it continues to consume oxygen and burn calories even while you’re driving home in your car afterwards!  

Make it Happen

In your next workout see if you can keep moving between your sets with some light calisthenics like jumping jacks or shuffles.  If you’re feeling adventurous try performing intervals on the bike or treadmill and keeping a moderate intensity between sets to simulate the cardio from a dance class.  

Zumba and other dance classes at Youfit provide all these benefits but if dance isn’t your thing, you can still get all the benefits.  In your next couple workouts try to incorporate one or more of the dance challenges above and see how great your body and mind feel!

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Raphael Konforti is the Fitness Education Coordinator for Youfit.  He has a Masters of Exercise Science and has worked in many different areas of fitness including collegiate recreation, international resorts and fitness publishing.  Aside from the gym, he loves spending his time active and outdoors going surfing, diving, hiking, practicing yoga or pushing cars down the street.