Think fast: what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words “Belly Dancing”?
If you answered “Hips Don’t Lie” or “Shakira” you’re not completely wrong! Since ancient times this practice has been associated with entertainment – think old James Bond movies or even Disney’s animated Aladdin.
While most people see belly dancing as a performance art, it’s actually blossomed into more of an health movement in recent years – and there’s a good reason for that too. Belly dance has a host of powerful health benefits that may just surprise you. There are many advantages beyond the five that I’ve listed below. But read on if you’re looking for some good reasons to start.
#1: Belly Dance Strengthens Your Pelvic Floor
If you’ve been bored silly by Kegel exercises, take a break and release, because you’re not alone. Most women would be surprised to learn that belly dance is an incredibly effective exercise for strengthening the pelvic floor muscles.
I wasn’t aware of this connection myself, until one of my students came up to me after class one day with a huge smile on her face. “Since I’ve been doing belly dance, I don’t have a leaky bladder anymore,” she said happily. “It’s completely gone!”
After doing some of my own research, I actually discovered that there’s some real science behind this. The Journal of Physical Therapy Science conducted a cool study on the effect of belly dancing on pelvic floor muscles.
The conclusions of this research found that an experimental group who participated in a belly dancing program (focusing on pelvis exercises) had increased their pelvic muscle strength. Fascinating stuff!
Inspired by this knowledge, I created my program “The Belly Dance Solution”, which helps women strengthen their pelvic floor with belly dance. You can learn more about that program here.
The best part of this particular health benefit is that you don’t even need to know where the pelvic floor muscles are! You’ll naturally activate them just by doing the movements – and having a blast!
#2: Belly Dance Helps Postpartum Recovery
Having been around for centuries, many people believe that belly dance could’ve originated as a movement to help women prepare for and recover from childbirth. They may just be onto something.
We’ve already established that belly dance strengthens the pelvic floor muscles, but it also strengthens the abdominal muscles while helping to tone and relax the hip muscles. This is pretty important for pre- and post-partum women.
What’s unique about belly dance is that it both strengthens and relaxes the muscles. Movements such as undulations, waves, circles and figure 8’s can calm and strengthen the body – and can probably soothe the baby in the womb too! Belly dancing can be an ideal exercise for getting back into shape after birth, helping the pelvic floor recover and heal.
And what’s more, the same scientific study in The Journal of Physical Therapy Science above recommended that belly dancing could be used to prevent and relieve symptoms of urinary incontinence as a non-surgical treatment. Who knew that just a few powerful movements could help get rid of that upsetting leaky bladder that often occurs after childbirth?
Many moms also find that belly dancing together with their babies can help calm and soothe them – an added bonus!
#3: Belly Dance Relieves Stress
If you’re one of those people who struggles with meditation, then belly dancing might just be perfect for you!
While most people wouldn’t think of belly dance as a stress reliever, you’d be happy to discover that this exercise is much like a moving meditation. Both invigorating and relaxing, belly dancing takes you out of your mind – where all your stressors are – and gently guides you back into your body so you can feel grounded and at peace.
The best part about this stress reliever is that you can choose the music. Belly dancing is pretty compatible with any genre, meaning you can escape into a rhythm you love, find your groove and let the mindfulness begin.
#4: Belly Dance Strengthens Your Core
I’ve been a professional belly dancer for 16 years and a personal trainer for 5 years. I can honestly tell you: belly dancing is probably one of the best exercises for strengthening your core and simultaneously targeting all your abdominal muscles.
There may be some among us who enjoy doing crunches and planks (not me!), but the problem with these exercises is that they tend to only work out the abdominal muscles in isolation. Belly dancing movements encourage your body to hit all your abdominal muscles at once. This makes it a truly powerful and efficient exercise that really counts where it should.
Strengthening your core muscles is also really important in preventing back injuries and pain. You’ll also improve your posture, so if you find yourself constantly slumped over a laptop or a desk, sitting in a chair all day, this may just be the perfect way to correct that!
#5: Belly Dance Burns Calories and Fat
Tired of the treadmill? Belly dancing can be an incredible, full-body, cardiovascular workout. From head to toe, you’ll be strengthening your arms, legs and core all at the same time.
It only takes 10 minutes of this exercise to raise your heart rate and leave you with a nice glow of sweat. Because it engages deep internal muscle groups, belly dancing is also a great calorie and fat burner. Since all the exercise is taking place under the surface, you’ll activate more muscle groups which means you’ll use more energy and expend more calories.
If you’re looking to spice up your fitness routine or even start a new fitness journey, then belly dancing may just be for you! Not only does this exercise movement strengthen and tone your muscles, but it can also be a chilled and relaxing way to work out without pushing yourself too hard.
Be sure to check out my program “The Belly Dance Solution” if you’re interested in strengthening your pelvic floor and relieving urinary incontinence. Just want to learn belly dance? My signature belly dance system Feminine Fire will get you belly dancing in no time and you’ll also learn how to DIY your own routines! To paraphrase the inspirational Shakira, once you start belly dancing, your hips definitely won’t be lying!