Over the past year, my body has succumbed to the dreaded gain in belly fat that often happens to post-menopausal women. It really disturbs me… but not just because my pants no longer fit.
If you’re a woman who’s past the age of menopause, you’ll want to read on and learn about a fun form of the best exercise that does more than just slay belly fat.
It lowers your “bad” cholesterol levels, improves your balance, and keeps you connected with other people, all at once.
Best exercise to dance your way to health
The fact that dancing can improve body composition and physical fitness has been well established. We even know that dancing can help women with a genetic predisposition toward obesity maintain control of their weight.
Now, I’m no dancer, and you may be thinking that you’re not, either. But a recent study has me looking for local dance classes I can join.
Researchers at several Brazilian universities joined forces to look at how a regular dance routine changed certain metabolic markers in postmenopausal women, as well as how it affected their self-image and self-esteem.
The study was small, but these researchers are confident that they have found an intervention that is not only inexpensive and readily available, but that offers the added benefit of socialization around the shared experience of learning something new.
Thirty-six women with an average age of 57 danced for 90 minutes, three times per week. After 16 weeks, they were evaluated for body composition (body fat vs. lean mass), blood lipids, functional fitness (the ability to accomplish daily tasks easily and without injury), self-image and self-esteem.
“This study highlights the feasibility of a simple intervention, such as a dance class three times weekly, for improving not only fitness and metabolic profile but also self-image and self-esteem in postmenopausal women.
“In addition to these benefits, women also probably enjoyed a sense of comradery from the shared experience of learning something new,” says Dr. Stephanie Faubion, medical director of the North American Menopause Society.
Anyone can dance!
Additional confirmed benefits of regular dancing include improvement in balance, postural control, gait, strength, and overall physical performance. All of these benefits may contribute to a woman’s ability to maintain an independent, high-quality lifestyle throughout her lifespan.
So, if you want to give dancing a try, start with your local adult education program. There are lots of options, including those for complete beginners.
But if you’d rather start out in the privacy of your own home, you should be able to find plenty of video tutorials online, or you might find a DVD of your favorite dance moves. Zumba is a fun type of dance exercise that you can do without a partner.
Fast-moving dance styles like hip hop and salsa are more intense than slower dances like the tango or waltz, but all of them will use your whole body and will challenge your brain as you learn the choreography and form.
You’ll burn calories, strengthen your heart muscle, and build aerobic endurance, all important strategies for staying mobile as you age.
You may want to check with your doctor if you have a medical condition such as hypertension, diabetes, or heart disease. But dancing is generally one of the safest forms of exercise for you if you’re in a high-risk category.
And don’t forget the social aspect of dancing! You’ll meet new people and laugh a little (or a lot!) as you learn new dance steps. Pretty soon, you’ll forget that you’re doing your body a favor. You’ll just be having fun!
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Postmenopausal women can dance their way to better health — Eureka Alert
Dancing as a Workout — Web MD