Dance General Fitness and Well–Being

Apply Both Movement and Exercise Into Your Daily Routine

November 23, 2015

Doing one activity is enough, right?

As I’ve been a dancer for most of my life, I usually avoided other strenuous activities such as running.  This may be because Ballet and Contemporary dancers, for instance, are often given time in between exercises and/or combinations to go through movements, stretch and prepare mentally and physically.

However, after taking up running for the first time and eventually doing my first 5K, I finally realized what was missing in my dance training all of these years: some good old fashioned cardio. Does this mean that movement and exercise are different? Here are a few reasons why we need both movement and exercise.

What constitutes as movement?

Movement‘ is seen as any physical activity that contracts the muscles to burn calories and requires more energy than resting. However, the goal of ‘movement’ tasks often focuses on how the muscles work together rather than problem areas. In addition, practicing mindfulness can also play a key role in enhancing body awareness, spatial awareness and movement. Using mindfulness during movement, therefore, allows the body to move more naturally and less static.

Practicing mindful movements can provide:

  • Increased parasympathetic relaxation, which reduces stress
  • Mind-body connection
  • Coordination and control
  • Improved flexibility
  • Improved postural alignment

How is exercise different?

Exercise can be categorized into 3 assesets: mode (what type), duration (how long), and intensity (how hard).  Therefore, exercise often contains structure and repetition that is specially planned. There are, however, different types of exercises (and many classes to choose from). Fortunately, combining different exercise types (e.g running and dance training) can have significant positive effects on overall health.

Maintaining an exercise routine is beneficial for:

  • Cardiovascular fitness
  • Focusing on problem areas directly by isolating muscles groups and joints
  • Muscular endurance
  • Weight control
  • Bone strengthening
  • and also, stress reduction

Should we practice both movement and exercise?

Combining cardiovascular exercise and movements that allow mindfulness and body awareness can further increase health benefits, such as mood and efficiency, and can be an effective way to improve technique. This also means continuing to engage in human movements (i.e. walking, stretching), whether you have an exercise routine or not, to break up the potential sedentary lifestyle. This can also serve as time for mental and physical recovery and/or a ‘reboot’.

As a GYROTONIC® Trainer, I often remind my clients to ‘keep moving’. Ridding of rigid, restricting movement is the ultimate the goal of each class (and also outside of class) to focus on the mind and body as a whole to help establish both stability and flexibility. Therefore, after learning the order of an exercise, we must continue find both freedom and control within each movement. This could be considered as a ‘guide’ for one to achieve optimal fitness and artistic levels.

Learn More:

Dance Fitness

Artistry and Technique

Cardio and Strength Training

Benefits of Slow Movement

How Exercise Benefits the Brain

Swimming with the Alexander Technique


Gaga: the movement language


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