Exercising Here & There

Almost every week I hear of some new medical or scientific research confirming the importance of incorporating exercise into our lives. There seems to be no disputing the fact that exercising on a regular basis is absolutely necessary if you wish to be healthy, happy, and youthful.

Perhaps the hardest part of putting together a regular exercise regimen is finding a workout that’s effective (for me, it’s bellydancing), something that’s enjoyable (bellydancing again!), and finding the time to do it. Many Americans have less leisure time than ever, and it’s really challenging to fit exercising into a life that’s already too hectic. I talked about this a bit in my blog ‘3 Minute Belly Dance Workout’, but sometimes we can’t seem to fit even 3 minutes into our schedule. This is where multi-tasking comes in handy, and boy, some of my fellow bellydancers and students have come up with some very creative ways to multi-task with belly dance exercise. Here’re some of the ways they’ve managed to work out a bit without taking any extra time out of their day.

Driving: Many people spend a great deal of time sitting behind the steering wheel of their car. Some bellydancers use this time to practice small isolated movements like ribcage slides, lifts & drops, ribcage circles, belly rolls, and even stomach flutters. The idea is to work the muscles deep, but in small moves. This way you don’t affect your driving negatively, yet you still can exercise the core of your body in a full range of motion.

Sitting at a desk: As with driving, you can exercise your core with isolated ribcage and belly techniques as you sit. You can also do head slides & rolls and shoulder rotations.

Watching TV: Sometimes you just feel like you have to turn off your brain, collapse on your sofa, and turn on the TV. Yet this doesn’t have to be non-productive time. While you’re watching the tube you can sit up and do all of the belly dance moves I already mentioned. You can also do arm techniques such as arm waves (snake arms), hand waves, wrist rotations, and finger ripples.

Cooking: While you’re standing at the stove or microwave waiting for the water to boil or food to heat up, you can practice any standing belly dance technique such as hip moves, shimmies, and level changes. Why just stand there doing nothing?

Walking from room to room: If you’re home alone (or if you have family members/roommates who won’t laugh at you!), practice your traveling steps like the basic walk or walking shimmy. If you’re going to go from the living room to the kitchen, get a little exercise while you’re at it.

Standing in the checkout lane: This one is popular in the colder climates. If you’re standing in the checkout lane at the store and you’re covered in sweaters and a heavy coat, you can practice your belly rolls. If you do the belly roll correctly, no one will even notice you’re moving (I’m originally from Wisconsin and it’s true, we northern girls do it in our fur parkas!).

Showering & bathing: It’s fun to do torso undulations in the shower. Place your back under the showerhead and undulate your torso vertebrae by vertebrae. The water will massage your spine sequentially from top to bottom and it feels great! While bathing and reclining in the tub, you can practice belly rolls and stomach flutters. Many students have told me they’ve mastered the flutter this way, probably because the warm water made them so relaxed and comfortable.

It’s fun to think up new ways on how you can practice your belly dance moves while you’re doing other activities. By multi-tasking, not only do you ‘sneak’ in a little exercise, but you’re also training your body to do belly dance moves better. That’s because the more you repeat a movement, the more it becomes an automatic part of your muscle memory. A little practice ‘here and there’ really adds up. You can have a healthier body and become a more accomplished bellydancer without taking any extra time out of your busy life.

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