Benefits of a Dance-Inspired Workout
Low-impact exercises like dancing, yoga and pilates can help us create long, lean muscles as well as improved fitness, balance and flexibility. Here are five reasons to consider a dance-inspired workout.
Movements like lunges, leg lifts, planks and sit-ups can help strengthen and develop our muscles, particularly the core muscles of the back and abdomen, which may reduce the risk of back pain. In fact Pilates, which was originally developed to help dancers maintain their fitness, is often used by physical therapists and orthopedic surgeons to enhance rehabilitation in patients who are recovering from injury.
Using your own bodyweight as resistance may also support bone health. One study found that dancing seemed to improve bone mineral content in older adults, as well as reduce the prevalence of falls and cardiovascular health risks.
Dancing is an enjoyable way to be more physically active and improve your flexibility, which can decrease your risk of injuries by helping your joints maintain their full range of motion. Yoga and Pilates can offer similar flexibility benefits, with one study1 suggesting that just one hour of Pilates per week improved the flexibility of participants as much as 10 sessions of intensive physiotherapy.
In dancing, yoga and other low-impact workouts, there is more emphasis on form, which means we are more aware of the placement of our feet, ankles, knees, hips and spine. This awareness may help us maintain good posture and coordination when performing daily activities.
Learning a sequence of movements and routines challenges our memory and, as we become more proficient, builds our confidence. One study in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine found that teaching the cha-cha to a small group of older adults twice a week for six months was enough to improve their memory and cognitive function on a number of tests.
Another study published in the New England Journal of Medicine claims that dance can be a powerful way to improve brain health. The study measured factors such as memory, sense of wellbeing, serotonin and stress levels, and found that dancing had the biggest impact when it came to improving overall cognitive skills, when compared with other exercises such as swimming and biking.
Best of all, dance-inspired workouts don’t always require specialist equipment or expensive memberships. Simply turn up to a class, or enjoy a Yoga or Pilates session with a mat, some handweights and perhaps a chair for balance. Of course, its important to see your doctor before starting any new type of training and ensure your DVD or local class is being taught by industry professionals.
 Segal, N.A., Hein, J., & Basford, J.R. (2004). The effects of Pilates training on flexibility and body composition: An observational study. Archives of Physical Medical Rehabilitation, 85, 1977-1981.