You can work your abs to no end and still not make your tummy appear flatter, according to dance instructor Allison Mills. A flat stomach is the product of proper spine alignment, working the right muscles and burning fat with cardiovascular movement. If you are willing to commit to weekly classes in salsa, swing, ballet, belly or tap, dance tones your stomach to the maximum. Any style of dance has all the right ingredients for the perfect flat tummy recipe.
Spinal alignment elongates the body as in ballet, creating the illusion of long lines with the arms, legs and torso. The idea of proper spinal alignment is to extend the low back to lift the rib cage up from the hips, thereby lengthening the abdomen. Every style of dance teaches spinal alignment, which along with making your stomach look longer also strengthens your low back and gives your body better stability.
You have 29 pairs of core muscles in your abdomen and pelvic floor, and like a girdle, they will contain your tummy when taut and toned. Crunches won’t cut it because you need a deep core workout to engage every one of these muscle sets. Dance does the trick because it goes beyond clenching stomach muscles. Practicing dance engages the core and contributes to the elongation of the torso, thus supporting spinal alignment.
In women, the vital muscles of the pelvic floor hold up the uterus, bladder and rectum. These muscles can weaken over time. When you lift up and elongate in dance, the pelvic floor raises, too. Dance requires you to engage the pelvic floor as you would in Kegel exercises. Thus dance can do more than exercise your stomach; it can help prevent health concerns like urinary incontinence that stem from a weakened pelvic floor.
Dance surpasses isolated stomach exercises because it provides a full-body workout. In fact, the National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity reports that 30 minutes of vigorous activity a day, such as dancing, will help you maintain a stable body mass index over 20 years. Dance burns fat stores, including those around the stomach. Plus, you get to groove to cool music, which is more fabulous than daily crunches.
- MayoClinic.com: Core Muscle Strength
- MayoClinic.com: Pelvic Floor Muscles
- National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity: Fast Facts
- Allison Mills; Dance Instructor; Missoula, MT
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
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