Health and Belly Dancing

The benefits of belly dance are both mental and physical. Dancing provides a good cardio-vascular workout and helps increase both flexibility and strength, focusing on the torso or "core muscles", although it also builds leg strength. Many belly dance styles emphasize muscular "isolations", teaching the ability to move various muscles or muscle groups independently. As with starting any new exercise routine, people would be wise to consult their doctor before starting a belly dance regimen. It's also important to talk with the belly dance instructor to find out the level of difficulty in the classes. The practice offers mental health benefits including an improved sense of well-being, better body image and self-esteem, and the generally positive outlook that comes with regular, enjoyable exercise.

Belly dance is a non-impact, weight-bearing exercise, which is especially good for women, since it can reduce the risk of osteoporosis. There is minimal stress on knees and feet. Depending on the intensity of exercise, participants can increase breathing and raise their heartbeat, which can assist in building cardiovascular strength.It can burn as many calories as light jogging, swimming or riding a bike.

Professor Fobrose at the athletic academy in Koln, Germany, showed that regular belly dancing not only strengthens trapezius and abdominal muscles but also strengthens the heart and increases circulation.

The advantage of belly dance is that it is suitable for all ages and body types. It can be as physically challenging as the dancer or student chooses. Many belly dance moves develop the ability to move various muscle groups independently, increasing flexibility in the torso and back. Dancing with the veil can help build strength in the upper-body, arm and shoulders. Playing the zills can get fingers trained to work independently and build strength. The legs and long muscles of the back are strengthened by hip movements.

Anette Paffrath at the University of Hamburg ressearched the effect of belly dance on women with menstruation problems. The statements of the women showed a more positive approach toward their menstruation, sexuality, and bodies during the course of the class.

In Eastern and Indian philosophy pelvic area is the source of strength and storage of energy. Belly dance movements focus on this vital area, freeing the flow of energy in this important area. The movements associated with belly dance strengthen the abdominal and pelvic region, preparing a woman for labor and birth with less pain and more celebration. Traditionally it is believed that belly dance was taught by wise women to prepare for pregnancy and birth.