Belly Dance Fitness for You

Good News, Belly Dancers: Being Bad Is Good For You!

Belly Dancers will be happy to know that when it comes to your health, being bad can be a really good thing.  Many of life's greatest indulgences bring big health benefits -- helping you stay slim, fight off the blues, and kick disease to the curb. Red wine, dark chocolate, even dropping an f-bomb now and then can help ease the stress of our busy belly dance lives! The hip chicks at HipMix.net have worked up a list of their best-worst offenses …

Catch some Z's. Experts unanimously agree: Sleep is free and has virtually zero health     drawbacks, making it the one treat no one should skimp on. Not getting enough sleep can leave you feeling groggy, anxious or even depressed. On the other hand, catching 40 winks can give you energy, boost your memory and immune system, and even help your metabolism.

•Leave your bed unmade. Moms everywhere might want to cover their ears. Not making the bed CAN be good for you! Here’s why it’s better to leave the sheets turned down: The average bed can be home for up to 1.5 million dust mites (Eeew!!). The good news is mites can’t live in the dry conditions of an unmade bed. This is especially helpful for dancers who suffer from asthma and allergies, the creepy critters are notorious for aggravating those conditions.

•Raise a glass to the pleasures of the healthy life! Your favorite tasty tonic can also be good for your heart. Red wine is touted for it's heart-healthy antioxidants and has been shown to boost HDL (good) cholesterol. More of a martini kind of gal? No problem: You can get similar perks from one liquor drink or beer a day. Either way, the key is moderation! Women should have no more than one drink a day, men should have no more than two.

•Let your mind wander. If you have just learned something new, don't rush off to the next task. Taking time to relax can actually help your memory! Studies have shown that the brain continues to process information during periods of awake rest, which can help you retain the new info. Regardless of if it's a new dance step or a new phone number, take some time to slow down and think it over.

•Make time for “ME” time. There's a reason it's called a mental-health day. Studies confirm that time off -- whether on a trip out of Dodge, a 24-hour staycation, or even a massage at your local day spa -- can relieve stress, lowering your blood pressure and your risk for heart disease. (FYI : Don't ever feel guilty about shelling out for massages, but if your budget doesn't include spa services, consider hands-on time with your honey.)

•There is such a thing as emergency chocolate. Nibbling a little chocolate every day -- as long as you stick to a square or two of the dark kind, to minimize sugar and fat intake – is “A OK” in our book! Chocolate's rep as a go-to comfort food when you're upset has science behind it, too. A study published late last year found that eating 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate a day for two weeks reduced stress hormones. (Really, where were we when that study was conducted ?!)

•Full fat salad dressing. Fat free salad dressings suck. Who doesn't want the full, robust flavor of REAL ranch served alongside their next  Ranch-Style Turkish Salad? Full-fat foods not only taste better but also serve a real health purpose, as long as you get the right amounts of the right kinds. Aim for at least 10 percent of your daily fat intake to come from monounsaturated fats (found in vegetable oils, avocados, salad dressings and many nuts and seeds).

•Soak up some sun. Bright days really do lift our moods ! Sunshine is the ultimate natural antidepressant, triggering our bodies to nip production of the sleep-stimulating hormone melatonin so we're alert, energized, and ready to face the day. Exposing bare skin to the sun also triggers the synthesis of vitamin D a hormone that may reduce your risks for cancer, heart disease, fragile bones, and other problems.    

•Whaaaat The F*@K??  Unless you are shooting an Orbit gum commercial, it’s okay to let the occasional swear slip out. In fact, it’s actually pretty darn good for you. (We don’t necessarily recommend you go around throwing out f-bombs over every little thing). Swearing triggers the body’s “fight-or-flight” response and releases natural pain relievers. Next time you stub your toe or the copier jams (again), don’t substitute “ Florida Connecticut”. Tell us what you really mean.