5 Ways the Rumba Can Benefit Your Mind and Body

5 Ways the Rumba Can Benefit Your Mind and Body
5 Ways the Rumba Can Benefit Your Mind and Body

Stemming from both African and European cultures, the rumba is an iconic style of ballroom dancing from Cuba in the late 1800s. Originally created by Afro-Cubans in the poorer areas of Cuba, using wooden boxes and spoons to make music whilst dancers improvised the steps we know so well today. The music has largely remained traditional in this sense, with the addition of instruments such as drums and claves. 

Further influenced by Spanish and Latin American cultures, there are multiple styles of rumba dancing popular today all around the globe, including Bolero, Afro-Cuban, and Son, to name just a few. Some styles are more suited to younger dancers, involving acrobatic skill and fast paced moves (such as Columbia rumba), and some suited to older dancers, with slower beats and less complex footwork (such as Yambu).  

The rumba is characterised by rhythmic and sensuous movements, often performed with a partner but can also be performed solo. The emphasis is on the dancer’s hips and footwork, with a combination of quick and slow movements to demonstrate the romantic nature of the dance. Your hips should naturally move in circles when accompanied by three-step footwork, with your knees bent and back straight.  

Below are 5 ways the rumba can benefit your mind and body: 

Improved Footwork 

One of the most frequent moves in rumba is the rumba walk. There are 9 different types of rumba walk, including the forward walk (which is the most common), the backward walk, and multiple variations of the two. Leading with your chest, you must put pressure on the ball of the foot, with your shoulders back and your body weight slightly over the ball of your front foot.  

Practising the rumba walk comes with a whole heap of benefits, including helping to improve your footwork. The more control you have over your feet, the better your balance and agility will be, which will result in less injuries and better control of your body.  

Improved Hip Action 

The rumba places a lot of emphasis on the hip action, which should come naturally with the footwork and not be forced or exaggerated.  

Exercising your hips will help strengthen the hip joint, allowing your body to be more mobile by providing your legs with a stronger foundation. It will also help strengthen the muscles, leading to decreased pain and problems in your hips, knees and spine.  

Strengthening your hips is important as you get older to decrease stiffness and reduce the risk of falls. We use our hips for a variety of day-to-day activities, from walking and sitting, to jumping and bending. They are one of the largest joints in the body as well one of the most useful, so it’s important you keep it moving! 

Brain Co-ordination  

As previously stated, dancing the rumba comes with a lot of intricate steps and specific arm gestures, which will take time to memorise and perfect. The nine rumba walks alone is already a vast amount of footwork to practise, which takes commitment and perseverance for it to become natural to the dancer.  

The mental and physical coordination involved in the rumba (and all dancing for that matter) helps keep your brain engaged and functioning to a healthy standard. Focusing on your footwork whilst thinking which direction to walk in and where your arms should be placed is a skill that will come naturally the more you practise, and as your brain health and multi-tasking skills improve, so will your dancing ability.  

Enhancing our mental and physical can reduce the risk of cognitive decline as we get older, which is why it’s important to keep our brains active and healthy, as well as our bodies! 

Control over key muscles 

Rumba consists of strong, defined movements, particularly using the arm, leg and core muscles. Using these muscles will help define and tone them, increasing control over your body. These muscles are used daily by most people, meaning strengthening them will be highly beneficial in everyday life and will help with day-to-day activities and movement.  

A 2017 study by Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy suggests a link between aging and a decrease in core back muscle quality. This shows how important exercising your core is as you get older to help with balance, posture and strength. 

Better control over these parts of the body will ultimately result in fewer falls and injuries. 

Improves self-confidence and releases endorphins 

The rumba is often a fast paced, energetic dance performed in a social setting. The dynamic movements and lively atmosphere and music helps the brain release endorphins, the body’s natural mood boosters and pain relievers. This means regularly dancing the rumba can show a significant improvement to your mental wellbeing and will help relieve stress in the brain and body making you happier and more relaxed overall.  

Not all rumbas are fast paced, however any form of exercise will be highly beneficial, so as long as your body’s moving!  

There is a lot of room for self-expressive movements in rumba, and the dances will often tell a story meaning facial expressions and gestures are important. Putting on a performance such as this helps boost your self-confidence and can make you feel more comfortable with your body. 

“Every day brings a chance for you to draw in a breath, kick off your shoes, and dance.” 

 – Oprah Winfrey 

Xpress-Yourself Dance CIC run weekly Keep Dancing classes, suitable for older adults across, Birmingham, Solihull, Walsall, Sandwell and online. Keep Dancing will teach you dances from around the world with no need for a dance partner. Find your nearest Keep Dancing class here.  

If you enjoyed reading 5 Ways the Rumba Can Benefit Your Mind and Body, you might want to consider reading 5 Benefits of Ceilidh Dancing.  

To find out more about Xpress-Yourself Dance CIC follow us on Facebook.  

Thank you for taking the time to read our blog and keep dancing!

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