Dancing for Good Health During Pregnancy
If the last time you danced was in your second-grade ballet recital or at your best friend's bachelorette party, pregnancy just might be the time to try it again. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that most pregnant women participate in 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise on most, if not all, days of the week. For women whose doctors have medically cleared them to exercise during pregnancy, dance can be a great alternative to the usual prescriptions of yoga and walking.
The Benefits of Dancing During Pregnancy
According to Ann Cowlin, the founder and director of Dancing Thru Pregnancy (DTP), a Connecticut-based fitness and well-being program that trains professionals to work with women of all ages, dancing during pregnancy, like yoga and walking, can provide numerous benefits for mom and baby. Among them are:
- relief from pregnancy-related discomforts;
- improved stamina before, during, and after labor;
- reduction in the need for medical intervention during labor and birth;
- and shortening of the postpartum recovery period.
The Mind-Body Connection
DTP classes around the world teach women a variety of skills through modern dance. In particular, the classes focus on the connection between mind and body. Cowlin explains that, "Mind-Body exercises evoke the Relaxation Response," which helps the brain and body counter stress, "which in turn helps women pay attention to their bodies while they work out. This improves motor efficiency and reduces the risk of injury, and is a central tenet of dance training." Some of the "Mind-Body exercises, or Centering, that is, balancing the body, deep abdominal breathing" are taught using techniques borrowed in the early 1980s from yoga, Pilates, Feldenkrais, and tai chi, explains Cowlin.