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How to Improve Flexibility with Dance

Jan 28, 2010

Taking up dancing is an excellent activity if you're learning how to improve your flexibility. Don't be discouraged by the thought of limber ballerinas doing split leaps. Nobody expects you to bend and move like a dancer when you first begin. Stick with it, however, and you'll find that stretches you once couldn't do will give way to flexibility. This happens because any kind of dancing activity or class will require you to stretch before you begin. You'll find that virtually all dance classes begin with a stretching warm up and end with a cool down period. Not only will dance increase your flexibility, it'll help with your body posture. Consider the following as you aim for a more limber body.

Take a Dance Class in Your Area

Many dance studios and gyms offer dance classes for beginner adults. There's no reason to fear looking silly or out of place. The classes are not competitive in nature and everyone is there to have fun. Expect to spend a good ten to fifteen minutes stretching before beginning any real dancing movements. No matter what form of dance you take (ballet, jazz, ballroom, hip hop, modern or other), you'll do stretching exercises to target all the main muscle groups in your body. Repeat stretching will lead to greater flexibility over time.

Dance classes focus on stretching and increasing flexibility because dancing itself requires you to move your body in new and unusual ways. If you're not flexible, you could easily get injured when you move your body in ways you're not accustomed to in daily life. As you begin, only take movements slightly past your comfort zone. For instance, when you're asked to lift your leg straight up in front of you, bring it up as far as you can make it go, trying to challenge yourself by pushing it up a tad further each time. Whatever you do, don't force the movement. If you feel any pain, take it down to where it's comfortable. Stretching should never be painful.

Take an Aerobics Dance Class

Aerobics classes with dance influences are all the rage. Zumba, for instance, is one the biggest crazes in group fitness classes. It combines Latin dance-inspired movements with cardiovascular activity for a complete hour-long workout.

If you're trying to increase your flexibility, Zumba is an especially good class to try. Like all other dance and cardio classes, Zumba involves an extensive warm up and cool down section with plenty of stretching. Because it's a class for all levels, you can ease into the movements and take it at your own pace. The combination of lunges, squats, hip swirls and shoulder rolls, among other movements, will increase your flexibility without you even knowing it.

Your flexibility will improve as you take dance classes and participate in dance-inspired aerobic group workout sessions. To see changes, you have to be willing to push yourself a little past your comfort zone when you stretch. Rest assured that with time, you'll find yourself becoming more and more limber.

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