I am often asked if bellydancing is a good way to lose weight. The short answer is “Yes of course it is!”, but this is simplifying too much. Belly dance is only helpful for weight loss when two things happen; firstly that it plays a part of a weight loss program and the other is keeping the heart rate up during class. Belly dance can only form part of a weight loss program as our bodies work on a system of input (food energy) versus output (energy used). If we put a lot of high energy food in (i.e. high in fats or sugars) and then drive to work sit at a desk all day, come home and watch TV and the only exercise is belly dancing, well, lets just say that the results won’t be big! However, some exercise is better than no exercise as studies have shown over and over again. The studies can’t seem to decide just how much we need, but it would be safe to say that some everyday is beneficial, even if it is taking the stairs or walking to the bus stop.
The other factor was in keeping the heart rate up during class. Belly dancing uses all the muscles in the body and is a great way to learn muscle control and strengthen the ‘core’ muscles of the tummy, but if the heart rate is not kept up then actual fat burning and weight loss is minimal. For maximum results, you should be feeling a bit out of breath but still be able to talk if necessary. The shimmy is a great way to do this because a lot of the large muscle groups of the legs are used.
You will amaze yourself how your fitness will improve through belly dancing as well as your stamina. At first doing a shimmy for more than a few seconds seems like an impossible task, but after a while you will be able to keep going for minutes!
It is also well documented that food is an emotional issue, whether eating inhibits feelings or depression or lack of confidence or anxiety, this can be helped through belly dance. Feeling good about yourself, your body, your shape and feeling joy while dancing can boost feelings of well being and self esteem which spills over to the rest of your life. Feeling good about yourself will increase your ability to keep to a wellness program of healthy eating and exercise. So shimmy your way to fitness!