HEADLINES Published September11, 2014 By Staff Writer

Belly Dancing Improves Body Image

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Belly dancer, musician with Beats Antique
(Photo : Danecarney-Wikimedia Commons)

A study reveals that belly dancing does more than improving your physical health and aiding in weight loss. It can also improve a person's perception of her own body.

The Psychology Department of Flinders University led by Dr. Marika Tiggeman conducted a study based on the findings of a previous research, which mentioned that modern dancers and those who perform on streets have a better self-image of their bodies than exotic dancers.

More than 200 young women, over 100 of which from various belly dancing classes, were recruited as participants. The other members did not have any experience with belly dancing and are undergraduates.

All of the women then answered a questionnaire that asked about their perception of their own bodies, including how attractive they believed to be toward the opposite sex and what they thought of their own body.

Based on the results, women who have belly danced or are belly dancers had a more positive perception of themselves. The sensual nature of the dance also didn't affect their manner of thinking. According to the doctor, belly dancing allows women to explore their sexual nature without compromising their safety. They were also dancing more for themselves and less for others.

Belly dancing is a kind that involves hip articulation and movements of the torso, although all parts of the body can be incorporated in the dance. The dance is said to be a mixture of different cultures, including African and Middle Eastern. The costume, which normally involves a skirt with shimmering "coins," is believed to have originated in Africa where women danced for money and kept their coins safe by sewing them in their skirts.

Originally part of a fertility rite, belly dancing has become a popular form of exercise, which promotes muscle toning, especially on the glutes and quadriceps. It is a low-impact exercise that also strengthens the back, improves digestion, and prepares women for childbirth. Depending on the intensity or the endurance of the dancer, a one-hour belly dancing can burn as much as 300 calories. 

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