Developing and sticking to an exercise regime sounds easy in theory, but in practice, it's often not so simple. For some people, working out is an enjoyable, cathartic experience; for others, it simply leaves them feeling drained and unable to look forward to the next session. There is a good reason why so many people fail to stick to their lofty New Year's resolutions ? it takes dedication to keep going back to exercise activities you don't enjoy. Wouldn't it be nicer if there was a more enjoyable, engaging way to get your exercise? Well, take a moment to consider the value of incorporating dance into your routine. Dancing is not only fun; it is a ubiquitous feature of cultures the world over. For thousands of years, we have used dance for ceremonial, expressive, and artistic purposes. If you've ever danced much, though, you know it's not as easy as it looks. In fact, dancing can turn out to be a real workout. You can dance all the way to a healthier life if you're dedicated. Today there are excellent reasons to try dancing for exercise. That's also why many different dance-based exercise activities are growing in popularity around the globe. What exactly are the benefits to dancing as exercise, and what can you try? Let's take a closer look and break it all down.



So what makes dance an excellent way to exercise?


Before you put on your dancing shoes or run out to buy a pair, it can be helpful first to understand exactly why and how dance benefits your body. Not only is it important to be aware of how exercise affects you, but it is also key to understanding how it can fit into your overall lifestyle. Believe it or not, dancing is more than just a fun way to pass the time at weddings and parties ? and it's more than just the graceful elegance of ballet. It not only works out your body, but it helps your mind, too.


For example, one study found that dancing improved the memory recall abilities of senior adults. The mental concentration required to learn and remember dances sharpens the mind and enables core areas of the brain to strengthen. It sharpens reflexes and enables practitioners to judge where and how to move on to the next step. Developing and maintaining that kind of basic mental quickness can help you out in tons of other areas ? including other forms of exercise, such as sports.

What about the physical effects on your body, though? Not only does dancing make your bones stronger, but it also helps you to be steady on your feet. Better balance is an oft-cited benefit. Dance is good for your heart health as well. Because you are moving around and being active; especially if you are engaged in a vivacious dance, your heart works harder to get your blood flowing. Improving your cardiovascular health is both easy and fun with dance. The gains you make here can easily translate into increased endurance and better performance in other more traditional forms of exercise. In addition to being a boost for your heart as well as your lungs, it can even help increase your strength and ability when it comes to your muscles.

It might not be pumping iron, but that doesn't mean it's not still helping you. Broadly speaking, these are just some of the incredible benefits of dancing. It's clear there are a lot of general ways it can improve your health. But "dance" is such a vague term; what kinds of dance and dance-based exercises are best for exercise? First, let's take a closer look at the role which traditional dances can play in your fitness schedule. Everything from salsa to square dancing is worth trying.



Find your groove when you learn traditional dances


Speaking of salsa, let's first consider the benefits that it has when you use it as exercise. Salsa, a dance that is heavily influenced by Latin America, is a heavily step-based dance that's all about sticking to the music and moving quickly. Because you are in constant motion and always thinking about the next step, you'll find yourself working up a sweat in no time. Right away you're already working on that all-important cardiovascular health. Time magazine noted that salsa dancing has been shown to have a positive effect on the fitness of older individuals.


As a regular part of a fitness routine, it can positively help you to build up that endurance. Salsa works out every big muscle group in your body, from your quads to your core. There are plenty of people who use salsa as a way to lose weight ? you can, too. What if you've never actually danced before, and you want some place to start with the basics? Like with any other exercise, taking those first steps and practising is a critical thing to do. Line dancing is one way to exercise through dance while acclimatising yourself to a new activity. A very traditional type of dance that sees groups of partners moving rhythmically through a series of patterns, line dancing is an excellent way to start out.

Developing the ability to sense the beat, follow it, and move in time to the music will assist you in all other areas of dance exercise. For the ladies specifically, there's also the ancient art form of belly dancing. While it might not sound on the surface like the kind of activity you can use to get healthy, it has several benefits. In fact, its popularity continues to grow as a form of recreational exercise. In addition to toning your back and abdominal muscles, belly dancing also serves as a way to improve your flexibility while getting in some basic aerobic activity. After mastering the art of belly dancing, it's not hard to go on to find you've made gains in other types of exercise, too.


Don't discount the value of dance-based exercises, either



Traditional dancing isn't the only way to get a workout, though. Over recent years, many people recognised the inherent value of exercise through dance. Traditional dancing has also led to the development of numerous aerobic dance exercises. From Zumba to others, these offer a fun, structured way for you to dance your body into better health. What are the specific benefits of exercises like Zumba? There's plenty of evidence out there. As an intense dance session, Zumba encourages your body to burn lots of calories and burning calories eventually means burning away fat, too. If you put your best effort into Zumba class, you have the potential to burn up to 650 calories an hour. That's a very respectable rate and a super way to condition yourself for other kinds of exercise.

Remember to combine Zumba class with other activities, such as weight training, to round out your body's physical fitness. Aside from Zumba, there is also a dance exercise called Bokwa. Blending traditional step aerobics with elements of dance from around the world, this is another fun way to burn tons of calories and work out your heart. When you feel like you've got two left feet, Bokwa is an excellent choice due to its easily understood choreography and open atmosphere. After just a few sessions of stepping and dancing to the music, you'll be hooked on this unique way to get your exercise. Don't forget, though, that there are tons of other ways to dance for better health. Capoeria, Batuka, and even Bollywood-style dancing are all possibilities. Do your homework and decide which is the best choice for you!


Using dance as a tool for better wellness


With all the evidence one can find, it's not hard to see that dance really can be a path to better health. Remember, though, that it's important to combine these activities with others to achieve full fitness. While you build skills and enhance your confidence through dancing, think about hitting the gym once in a while too. Translate those gains into even better improvements in your fitness. Don't forget to combine your activity with a healthy, balanced diet as well. Just as you move in harmony with your dance partner, harmonise all the aspects of your approach to exercise for a fun and enjoyable way to get fit!