Can Belly Dancing Flatten Your Stomach?
If your fitness goals include washboard abs and a tighter midsection, you may think that countless crunches are the only way to get you there. While not a total solution, swiveling your hips with belly dancing can help you on your quest for a flatter stomach by engaging your upper and lower abs, along with your obliques for a tighter core. This can help you develop stronger ab muscles. Along with a regular cardiovascular workout routine, belly dancing can be help you achieve your fitness goals.
Belly dancing can be a break from the regular gym experience, so it can be more motivating than simply heading to a pump class or working out on your own. The American Council on Exercise lists the benefits of belly dancing as increased core balance, toned abs, flexibility and better posture. Each facet of the benefits of belly dancing can contribute to a flatter belly, particularly a stronger core and better posture.
It should be noted that in fitness, there is no such thing as spot reduction. While your belly may be your trouble area, working on your belly alone doesn't mean you'll lose weight only in your stomach area. Instead, a focused effort on losing weight from the entire body through strength training, aerobic activity and a healthy diet will leave you feeling svelte and satisfied. Belly dancing is a full body workout, which means you can also tone your glutes, thighs, hips and arms as you dance.
"A single belly dance session works hundreds of muscles, burns calories and helps woman de-stress."
Belly dancing: Swivel your way to fitness
By Stephanie Smith
Friday, June 13, 2003 Posted: 11:05 AM EDT (1505 GMT)
LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- In Asia, it is a dance to usher in a new birth. In Turkey, it is considered a folk dance. In a small studio in West Los Angeles brimming with women of all ages, belly dancing is a unique way to get in shape.
"There's parts of your body that after you do this dance you realize you haven't been moving those parts in years," said Iris Parker, a student in the class.
Parker's instructor, Aisha Ali, said that while swaying and sashaying through the hour-long class her students don't just move parts of their bodies, but the entire body.
"The neck moves and the shoulders move and the chest lifts and the diaphragm lifts. The pelvis goes up and down," said Ali, who has been performing and teaching belly dancing for more than two decades. "It's soft for the joints and yet it's very energetic and very aerobic."
According to Ali, a single belly dance session works hundreds of muscles, burns calories and helps students to de-stress.
"You really have to stay with it," said longtime student Jytte Springer. "It's always a challenge, a physical challenge, and that's the real workout."
Belly dancing has emerged as one of the hot new workout trends in recent years, according to the American Council on Exercise.
The fitness advocate group says belly dancing and other dances have evolved from the traditional concepts to become heart-pumping workouts in gyms across the nation.
"I think every woman originally moves like that," said Parker, as she described what its like to belly dance. "The sensuality of the dance was why I really wanted to learn how to do [it]."
A bonding dance
The sound system in Ali's class pours out music from all over the world. Students shake their hips, adorned with gold coins, as their bare feet patter and slide across the floor.
At times, they watch Ali intently, emulating her moves. At other times the studio rings with laughter. When the class is over, students huddle in groups, exhilarated, chatting about the class.
"We form bonds," said Ali. "It's a very female bonding kind of dance."
Her students agree about bonding and they also agree about the intense workout.
"You feel it," said Parker. "It makes your body have a beautiful shape and it's very good for a person who doesn't like, say, running and going to the gym."