Dance your way to fitness

May 15, 2012, 06:50 IST | Tunali Mukherjee

As the Dhak Dhak girl turns a year older today, we continue to be mesmerised by Madhuri Dixit's irreplaceable screen presence. From her first big hit Ek Do Teen to the recent O Re Piya, Madhuri's dance moves are as memorable as her acting skills. Put on your dancing shoes, as we embark on our way to fitness a la Madhuri

Dance for joy, for love, for life. And now, dance your way to fitness too. It’s not surprising to follow this mantra if birthday girl Madhuri Dixit is the muse in question. is left with little doubt that dancing is the way to go.

“Dancing covers up all the major components of physical fitness namely, Cardiovascular endurance that strengthens the respiratory organs like the heart and lungs, Muscular endurance, which is the ability of a group of muscles to perform an activity for a longer period of time and Muscular strength, as some form of dances require lifts as well as heavy props,” explains fitness expert Huzefa Lokhandwala. “One of the most important advantages of dance is weight loss as it boosts your metabolism,” he adds.

Choreographer Priya Gonsalves Burde swears by the benefits of dancing. “Dance boosts your self-esteem, shapes your personality and is high on the feel-good factor. It normalises the blood pressure and helps lower cholesterol. Besides, it also improves flexibility, agility, creativity and concentration and makes you more graceful,” she says.

Dance delight
Dr Sachin Bhonsle, Orthopaedic Surgeon, Fortis Hospital, Mulund, recommends dancing as a great way to stay fit. “Weight bearing exercises like dancing is very important to keep the bones strong. Those with calcium problems, Vitamin D deficiency and osteoporosis will benefit from these exercises. Dancing also helps keep the joints mobile and muscles in a good tone. As it involves the full body, co-ordination improves. Dancing improves your reflexes, so one is more alert and graceful and is less likely to fall,” he says.

Flexibility, endurance and strength emerge as the biggest benefits of dance. “Flexibility training (stretching) balances the muscle groups you use or overuse during exercise and other activities, or from bad posture. A flexible joint greatly decreases your risk of injury-it has the ability to move through a greater range of motion and requires less energy to do so,” explains Priya.

“When you work towards building stamina, your cardiovascular system will strengthen, your muscle tone will increase, your sleep will be improved and you will be capable of achieving a greater amount of weight loss. When you have the endurance to engage in the activities you enjoy, you feel much happier. Dance is one of the best ways to build strength, as it works on each muscle group,” she believes.

Move with caution
That said dancing does have its fair share of cons. “As any other form of exercise, Dancing has it's own set of injuries, like muscle sprain and tear. Back and knee problems can arise as dancing is a very dynamic form of exercise. So, plenty of importance must be given to the form and technique,” says Huzefa.

“Make sure you train under a certified instructor and you do a proper warm up before any workout. The purpose of a warm up and stretch prior is to prepare the body for exercise as it will help increase blood flow to the muscles. It also increases the rate of oxygen exchange between the blood and muscles as well as increase muscle extensibility,” adds Huzefa. He goes on to elaborate that stretches performed during the beginning of the session have to be dynamic stretches, which are stretches with movements, as research proves that dynamic stretches are better than isometric (passive) stretches, where you hold a particular position for 10 to 15 seconds. Passive stretches are good post the session.

Age no bar
Dr Bhonsale recommends dancing for all ages: “If you have any back or knee problem, consult your doctor before taking up dancing. However, there is a way to include dancing in everyone’s life. The doctor suggests that the young can go for the more demanding forms, while the elderly or those with knee and hip replacement surgeries can go in for the slower variants, like ballroom dancing or basic salsa.

Get smart too
A study conducted the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, funded by the National Institute on Aging, and published in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that dancing makes you a smarter person. The researchers credit a dancer’s alertness and rapid-decision making when dancing as the reason behind this phenomenon. Dancers, naturally, agree with the study’s observations. “Our brains need exercise as much as our bodies. As dancing requires a significant amount of brain activity, it’s a perfect form of brain workout that helps maintain focus and clarity, and ward off certain mental diseases,” says Priya.  “Count the number of sections in your brain that are used in order for you to dance — memory, reaction time, motion, focus, music, communication, emotions, and so on. The whole brain is in it. You have to remember all the steps and you have to make quick decisions. Your personality emerges while dancing to a song of your choice. It helps release a lot of suppressed emotions, as our body can communicate better than words can,” she maintains.

Staying fit with Madhuri
Here’s a list of songs that sends our hearts going Dhak-dhak and promises a great workout at the same time as well.
Ek Do Teen - Tezaab (1988)
Madhuri taught India a whole new way to count when the Laxmikant-Pyarelal composed Ek Do Teen hit the screens and went on to become an instant success. 
Calories lost: Try moving as fast and gracefully as Madhuri has in this song and you’ve worked almost half hour’s worth on a treadmill.

Dance of Envy - Dil To Pagal Hai (1997)
This racy number had Madhuri and Karishma flaunt their dancing skills in an intense competition and even though on screen, Madhuri’s character gave up to Karishma’s, off screen, it remains one of the most closely contested titles, ever.  Calories burnt: At three and a half minutes, Karishma Kapoor collapses into Shahrukh’s arms after the song ends. That should give you an idea of how demanding a workout this can be.

Kay Sera Sera — Pukar (2000)
If the world still doubted Madhuri’s dancing skills, this Prabhudeva-choreographed song put these to rest. Calories burnt: If you can pull of the dance, and look good while doing it, you’ve burnt enough calories to reward yourself with a brownie. Make sure you dance to this song twice the next time.

Dance the calories away
Calorie-burning varies from person to person, but on an average these are the number of calories you burn each time you dance.
Bollywood: 250 – 350 calories
Belly Dance: 250 – 300 calories
Bharatanatyam: 400 – 600 calories
Ballet: 300 – 400 calories
Zumba: Upto 500 calories
(30 minutes-1 hour sessions)

Learn Bollywood’s jhatka-matkas here

>> Shiamak Davar’s Institute of Performing Arts
Where: Batches at Churchgate, Nana Chowk, Matunga, Bandra, Juhu, Andheri, Borivali, Kandivali, Ghatkopar, Chembur, Thane, Mulund and Vashi.
Call: 61543000
Fees: Rs 3,800 for 15 classes New batches commence from June. They offer classes in Shiamak Style (Contemporary), Sha-bop(Hip-Hop and street style), Bollywood Jazz, Theatre Jazz, Jive and Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Sumeet Nagdev Dance Arts
Where: Dadar and Mahim
Call: 24366777/6/1
Apart from regular classes they also provide a 1-year Dance Arts diploma.

Fab Fitness Studio
Where: Mazgaon
Call: 66867800/801/802/803
Fees: Rs 3,600 for 24 classes 

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