Whether you flaunt your every move on the dance floor or sway to your favorite songs in the car, dance is an activity that everybody enjoys, in one way or another. Luckily, dancing is something that will not only bring a smile to your face, but can also help improve your physical and mental health. It is great exercise that gets your mind and muscles working no matter who you are.
When you move to certain rhythms, your body becomes synchronised with them, which is great for releasing all kinds of neurochemicals, some of which can help to inhibit all those things that make you feel stressed.
With so many different ways to dance from jumping around with the kids to some good music, shaking it out at a party or dance lessons, you’ll be gaining all these great benefits with every step that you take.
# 1: Increase Strength and Overall Health – Dancing is exercise so, naturally, it will assist in strengthening your bones and muscles. As your strength increases, you will have more energy to continue dancing. Your increased level of physical activity and exercise can help prevent illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease and reduce the risk of osteoporosis as your bones become stronger.
#2: Boost Memory – When you exercise, the levels of chemicals in your brain which encourage nerve cells to grow are increased and since dancing requires you to remember various steps and sequences, your brain power is boosted which helps to improve your memory. Dancing incorporates several brain functions at once- kinesthetic, rational, musical, and emotional. Utilizing all of these at the same time can further increase your neural activity, helping to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
#3: Improve Flexibility – Stretching before and after dancing is very important to getting the most out of your movements and avoiding injury. As you continue dancing you will be stretching more consistently and will notice how each stretch will become easier to complete. As the stretches become easier, you will be able to go farther into each stretch, creating longer lines as you permanently lengthen your muscles and become more and more flexible. With this increased flexibility you will notice you have a wider range of motion and your dancing will become much easier.
#4: Increase Balance – In order to execute each move and sequence correctly, you will need to be able to maintain a strong center of gravity. As you learn each movement and begin to gain increased flexibility and strength, your posture, balance and spatial awareness will naturally begin to improve, making each step easier for you to complete.
#5: Healthy Heart and Lungs – Dancing is great cardiovascular exercise. As you continue to dance and notice your strength and grace improving, you will witness an increase in your stamina.
#6: Reduce Stress – When you are dancing, your body is fully in that moment, focused on the music and your surroundings. Being around friends or that someone special to enjoy dancing to your favorite music can help you focus on strictly the moment you are in and aid in reducing the amount of cortisol your brain produces (the hormone that is associated with stress), lowering your stress and tension levels.
#7: Diminish Depression – You appear to get a much bigger release of endorphins when you dance than during other forms of exercise; it also connects with the emotional centres in the brain. For many people, dancing prompts an emotional release – often that’s uncomplicated happiness, while for some it can make them cry. It’s cathartic – a letting go of pent-up emotions.
# 8: Lose Weight – The consistent movement that dancing provides utilizes multiple muscle groups at the same time, helping to tone your entire body. A study in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology found that an exercise program of aerobic dance training is just as effective as jogging or cycling in order to improve body composition and aerobic strength. You may even notice a natural shift in your eating habits as you begin to feel healthier from your dancing, which also will aid in weight management.
# 9: Increase Social Improvement & Confidence – Everybody enjoys meeting new people. Dancing provides a fun environment to meet people who have the same interest as you. ! This type of environment is perfect to either utilize your social skills if you are outgoing or to help strengthen your social skills if you have a quiet personality. Dancing is a great way to meet new friends and improves your social outlook while in an atmosphere where you can feel safe and comfortable.
So put on your dancing shoes, put on your favourite dance music and dance away with some smiles and laughs ! You deserve to have some fun !
We deprive ourselves of things we love for fear of bingeing, then we over-exercise so as not to feel guilty about slip-ups. What happened to the fine art of moderation ?
From the woman who won’t have a biscuit in case she ends up eating the whole packet, to the running fanatic who won’t stop until she’s done her allotted distance, I see many people trapped in cycles of excess and deprivation.
Some of us, it seems don’t know how to achieve consistent moderation in our lives.
Any kind of extreme or obsessive behavior is unhealthy for your body, mind and soul.
We certainly know that eating nothing but sweets and refined carbs is unhealthy, but we fail to recognise that too much unhealthy behavior can do damage too.
Too much of a good thing- For example, while regular exercise is, of course, good for us, over exercising is not. While normal exercise gives most people a boost, excessive exercise can lead to obsessive and solitary behavior, leading to exclusion from family and friends. It almost equates to addiction.
Treat yourself - A little of what we fancy appears to do us good, even if the benefit of a piece of cake or a glass of wine is simply the feel-good effect of a treat.
If you are going to indulge in something, you should do so joyfully and not guiltily. Constantly depriving ourselves of little indulgences is a fast track to feeling awful.
And cutting out certain foods because you don’t trust yourself to have just one will often trigger binge-eating, the thing you tried so hard to resist. Stretches of deprivation followed by excess also causes our health to suffer, especially our immune system, not to mention the psychological impact of veering between extremes.
There are plenty of things that you can enjoy – dark chocolate, red wine, a nice steak – that are good for you as well. Perhaps we shouldn’t be so fixed in definitions of what is good and bad for us. Exercise, fruit and green tea (good). Carbs, saturated fat and chocolate (bad). We tend to label things in very black and white terms, yet all we need is to start seeing things in shades of grey.
Balancing act-We don’t need to resign ourselves to a lifetime of all or nothing – learning the fine art of moderation is possible…
Flex Your Self-Control – learning to exercise self-control is crucial. Practice small acts of self-control regularly and you become better at self-control in the long run. Practising self-control in one area of your life can have a positive spill-over effect into other domains. If you can be more moderate with your emotions, your family, your working life, you will take a more moderate approach to your health and wellbeing, too.
Control your impulses – recognise that our drive to indulge isn’t a moral failing. It’s not your fault, it’s how our brains are designed. You need to take responsibility by recognizing that. Professor Paul Gilbert suggests treating impulsiveness by creating a space between first noticing the impulse and then indulging in it. If your problem is overeating, put a note on your fridge saying ,“Do you really need to eat me?” Give yourself 10 seconds where you can knock out the impulsive tendency and give the thinking brain a chance to kick in. Your emotional brain’s reaction is instant, your rational brain needs slightly longer.
Develop a compassionate attitude towards yourself - create a friendly understanding voice in your head which can forgive you and strengthen your determination instead of making you feel terrible.. Use language which empowers rather than critical talk. As Louise Hay would say, “Love Yourself !”.
Change your language – The terms good or bad aren’t helpful. A woman will say she has been good when she’s eaten just 500 calories in a day or done excessive exercise, but that’s extremely bad for you. It’s important to educate yourself before applying definitions.
Use your senses – The key to being satisfied with just one glass or portion is to be mindful of what and how we eat and drink. Savour every mouthful and enjoy every last taste and smell and feel.
According to the World Health Organization and the Australia Food and Agriculture Organization, the chemical called Acrylamide can cause cancer.
You may be surprised at just how prevalent it is. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration recently published its latest research on the acrylamide content of common foods.
Here are those that topped the list:
How to Avoid Acrylamide ?
Thanks to a higher awareness of this concern, more and more farmers and food manufacturers are working to make their products with lower amounts of this chemical. However, there are also things you can do at home in order to lower your Acrylamide intake.
These things include:
Acrylamide can form when foods are fried or toasted to darker levels. By frying, baking, and toasting only lightly, you can lower the amount of the chemical found in the foods that you eat.
If you bake your own bread, add some rosemary to dough prior to baking -- just 1 teaspoon can reduce acrylamide by up to 60% ! The power of herbs are incredible and that is why I keep on stressing to my clients to drink gallons of herbal teas because the benefits are priceless !
If you want to avoid acrylamide altogether in your potatoes, steam or boil them. These cooking methods result in little or no acrylamide because the water keeps the temperature below the 250 degrees needed for an acrylamide reaction. As a general rule: Cook slower and at lower temperatures.
You may also want to include cancer-fighting foods in your diet. While researchers aren’t aware of any food that gets rid of acrylamide in your body, cruciferous vegetables are known cancer-fighters. Stock up on cancer preventative foods such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, green tea, moringa, berries, garlic, ginger, turmeric and drink herbal teas such as rosemary and tulsi.
Can't resist that chocolate cake ? You might have a valid reason...
You may think your cravings are just part of day-today life, but they could be a warning sign that something is wrong with your diet. So before you give in to that desire, try curbing those cravings with healthy alternatives.
You might be deficient in: Essential Fatty Acids
Try replacing with: Fatty acids: omega-3s, chia seeds, walnuts, cashew nuts, flax seeds.
PASTA, WHITE BREAD, PASTRIES:
You might be deficient in: Chromium, a mineral that helps with functions such as digestion.
Try replacing with: Onion, romaine lettuce, tomato, sweet potato.
You might be deficient in: Iron
Try replacing with: Spinach, legumes, dried fruit. Eat fruit and vegetables high in vitamin C as this helps with iron absorption. i.e. squeeze lemon juice over your spinach.
You might be deficient in: Chloride (salt)
Try replacing with: Olives, tomato, celery, kelp (seaweed), broccoli, almonds and a little slice of feta cheese.
You might be deficient in: Magnesium
Try replacing with: Raw cacao nibs (beans, powder), pulses, nuts and seeds.
You might be deficient in: Calcium
Try replacing with: Sesame seeds/tahini, broccoli, kale, spinach, soybeans, okra.
You might be deficient in: Iron
Try replacing with: red meat, beans, chickpeas, moringa tea.
CURB THOSE CRAVINGS
Ginger and Moringa is an incredible pair known to promote better health and longevity.
Barbara is a qualified nutritionist offering Health, Nutrition & Lifestyle Counseling. She gives Healthy weight loss advice and promotes the Mediterranean diet. She is the author of the Med Life Diet - creating healthy lifestyle habits and attitudes for life !