All-in-one salsa: fitness benefits of salsa dancing

salsaIn the three months I’ve taken salsa classes, I’ve come to the conclusion that salsa is (almost) an all-in-one form of fitness. In my opinion, everyone should dance salsa or some other Latin dance. 🙂

I’ll explain why.

Fitness benefits of salsa dancing

Like one of my classmates put it, before she started the course, she thought that we would do a little bit of dancing. That was an understatement of the century. 🙂 After the first 90 minutes of salsa I was drenched in sweat, could barely control my feet and was having FUN, FUN, FUN.

Like I had finally been in my element.

I’ve also learned that salsa mixes and matches elements from Latin music and Latin dances. In addition to (Cuban) salsa, we have learned a little bit of son, rumba (African origin) and reggaeton (also known as hip hop in tbe Anglo-Saxon world).

Pure salsa probably doesn’t even exist, and if you’d be dancing salsa in a club or in the street, your partner might suddenly add in some moves from rumba or son or reggaeton..

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But now for the fitness benefits of salsa.

Salsa dancing improves your aerobic fitness. Like I said, I was breathless and drenched in sweat after my first class. Usually I’m so tired after the class that have to take a nap in the afternoon after I return from the class. The naps are getting shorter, so I think my aerobic fitness is gradually improving. 🙂

Salsa dancing improves your muscular endurance. Salsa doesn’t improve your muscular strength the way weight lifting does, but it does improve your muscular endurance. I think salsa is a good way to maintain and develop your overall muscular body control. Especially dancing rumba requires thighs of steel and the muscles of your torso get quite a workout too.

Salsa improves your core control. Learning to dance salsa well requires a tremendous amount of core control. All the muscles of your core – plus the muscles of your upper back – need to work effectively together so you’ll be able to do the hip and chest isolations that are part of salsa.

I think that salsa dancing is an effective antidote for  low back pain and the stiffness caused by our sedentary lifestyle. I can usually feel and hear how the stuck-together vertebrae in my low back get unstuck when we do hip and chest isolations during the warm up. (I don’t recommend salsa for anyone with acute back problems though – it would probably be too much for your back).

If you watch the reggaeton clip below, you can see for yourself what it means to have a top-notch core control.

 

We were learning some reggaeton last Saturday and let’s just say that trying to shake my booty like the lady in the clip made me feel like I had suddenly grown extra body parts I didn’t exactly know what to do with.

Salsa dancing develops body coordination. When you grow older, you need to have a good body coordination to prevent falls and injuries. If you don’t like to move like an Oompa-Loompa, learn to dance salsa. 🙂

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Did I also mention that learning to salsa is fun, even though it makes me feel like an Oompa-Loompa. 🙂 But hey, I’m a Finn, I’m not supposed to know how to move my hips!

If you want to improve your fitness and perhaps shed some pounds in a way that is  both effective and fun, try salsa or some other Latin dance. You could also try ballroom dancing, but I don’t think it provides all the benefits that salsa offers. That’s because in ballroom dancing you usually move your torso in a one block which means they don”t exercise your core muscles like the Latin dances do.

Salsa dancing could be especially good for your fitness if you combine it with some resistance training.

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I estimate that in 5 years I may look pretty good on the dance floor. 🙂

Comments

  1. Marion says:

    Hi Satu! My daughters laugh at me because I cannot shimmy or move my hips well for dancing. I blame that on a highly religious upbringing. 😀

    I often take a nap after exercising. Dancing is excellent exercise that is much more strenuous than most people image. I’d probably need or like a nap after dancing, like you do. I’m so happy that you decided to branch out and take these lessons! 😀

    • Satu says:

      Hi Marion!

      I’ve noticed that my low back is really stiff and this makes the hip moves *challenging*. Foamrolling my glutes and quadratus lumborum helps make them looser, but I still expect it will take a loong time before I become an expert booty shaker… 🙂

  2. Salsa / Latin dance isn’t necessarily my favourite but I SO agree with this post Satu. Exercise should be fun and the good thing about dance is that it often doesn’t matter what you look like doing it as long as you are trying – you are getting the benefits you mention.

    I used to do these hip hop classes and I thought I was moving just as well as our very funky instructor MJ… but occasionally I’d see myself in the mirror and realise I wasn’t quite as groovy. (It just meant I stayed away from the mirror!) 😉

    • Satu says:

      HI Deb! I think the way the upper body and hips are moved in hip hop is especially confusing. At some point our young hip male teacher told we are all moving our arms in the wrong direction. 🙂 But like I said, in 5 years I will probably look pretty good on the dance floor. Can’t wait till I’m 70!! 😛

      I’m glad I started salsa, I had forgotten how fun dancing can be.

  3. I’ve never been good at any kind of ranging, but it is never to late to learn – right?

    • Satu says:

      Hi Diane. It is never too late – and you can have fun while learning. 🙂

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