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Belly Dancing, Fitness & Weight Loss

By Barbara Hazelden

Belly-dancing classes typically feature flowing dance moves choreographed to music, as well as fast-paced and energetic routines that can provide a cardiovascular workout. Professional instructors structure belly-dancing workouts to include a warm-up and aerobic dance segment. These aerobic workouts often increase your heart rate as you elevate your arms and hands above heart level. Combine frequent and vigorous belly dancing workouts for maximum benefits.

Fitness Benefits

You can realize a number of fitness benefits from belly dancing. The American Council on Exercise notes that belly dancing can result in improved flexibility, along with better coordination and body core balance. Your posture will likely be improved as well. Belly dancing also helps to tone muscles in your arms, legs, back and abdominal area.

Weight Loss Benefits

Vigorous belly dancing can provide weight-loss benefits. Your weight loss depends on the workout’s length and frequency and your own exertion level. Choose a belly dancing teacher who encourages continuous movement, and incorporates traveling steps whenever possible.

Aerobic Benefits

Belly dancing is a recognized type of low- and moderate-intensity aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise results in increased heart and respiratory rates, which in turn lead to an improved cardiovascular system. You’ll likely also notice more stamina and strength. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends a three-times-weekly workout of at least 20 minutes per session, at 60 percent of the maximum heart rate for your age.

Other Benefits

You may notice additional benefits from regular belly-dancing workouts. Belly dancer and teacher Keti Sharif observes that belly-dancing activities can lead to a sense of general relaxation. Gentle flowing and swaying movements can foster a meditation-like calmness. Sharif also notes a belly dancer who is self-conscious about her weight issues often experiences increased body acceptance and appreciation.


Belly dancing can involve bending, swaying and turning movements. Some dance routines may require you to descend to the floor, perform choreographed movements and arise to continue with the dance. Belly dancing’s demands can be similar to those of an energetic aerobics routine. Consult with your doctor if you have knee or joint concerns, or if you question your body’s readiness for this physical workout.

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