Updated: Oct 17
As a passionate dancer, I know what it feels like to be overwhelmed by the demands of the art. For years, I felt immense pressure to exercise and train for countless hours each week, believing that it was the only way to excel in my craft. It wasn't until a pivotal moment that I realized the profound truth: dedicating just one day a week to cross-training could be better than doing nothing at all. In this article, I'd like to share my personal journey and the scientific evidence supporting this revelation.
The Turning Point
Like many dancers, my schedule was packed with rehearsals, technique classes, and performances. I felt the need to push my body to the limits, thinking that more practice equaled more progress. However, this intense routine began to take a toll on my physical and mental well-being. I was constantly fatigued, and the fear of injury loomed large.
One day, during a moment of self-reflection, it hit me: I needed to find balance. I realized that it wasn't about how many days a week I trained but how effectively I trained on those days. This realization led me to explore the benefits of dedicating just one day a week to cross-training, and it was a game-changer.
Scientific Backing for My One Day a Week of Cross-Training
First, you might think "Well, then why do you recommend more days in your courses?" Because in reality we want to strive for 2-3 days a week but, if that just isn't in the cards for you, ONE day a week is better than NONE.
My journey of integrating one day of cross-training into my dance routine was validated by scientific studies:
Improved Physical Conditioning: I discovered that exercising just one day a week significantly improved my cardiovascular health, muscle tone, and flexibility.
Injury Prevention: Worried about overuse injuries, I began to incorporate cross-training to address muscular imbalances. Research, like that found in the "Journal of Sports Science & Medicine," indicated that one day of cross-training per week can reduce the risk of overuse injuries.
Mental Refreshment: The mental break from dance practice that cross-training provided was invaluable. Studies published in the "Psychology of Sport and Exercise" showed that diversifying exercise routines can boost motivation and reduce mental fatigue.
Long-term Sustainability: My journey toward one day a week of cross-training was about sustainability. I learned from a review in "The Journal of Applied Physiology" that consistency, even in small doses, is essential for reaping long-term benefits.
So, let's dive into some more details on the actual reason one is better than none in regards to exercise and cross-training.
Cardiovascular Health: Even if you can only manage one day of cardiovascular exercise each week, like going for a brisk walk or a bike ride, you're doing your heart a favor. It can help improve your resting heart rate, boost your overall cardiovascular endurance, and reduce your risk of heart disease. Of course, doing it more often would offer even more significant benefits.
Muscle Tone and Strength: Believe it or not, one day a week of strength training or resistance exercises can make a difference. You might not see super rapid changes, but consistently dedicating that one day to strength training can help tone your muscles and gradually build strength, especially if you're just starting out.
Flexibility: If flexibility is your goal, incorporating one day a week for stretching or yoga can enhance your joint mobility and overall flexibility. It's a step toward preventing injury and increasing your range of motion.
Mental Health: Don't underestimate the power of exercise on your mental well-being. Even if you can only manage one day of physical activity per week, it can help reduce stress, boost your mood, and contribute to an overall sense of well-being.
Remember, while one day of exercise is better than none, it's generally recommended to aim for more frequent exercise sessions throughout the week. Organizations like the American Heart Association suggest at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. But, hey, we all start somewhere, right?
The bottom line is, doing something is always better than doing nothing. If your schedule or situation allows only one day a week for exercise, make it count, and consider gradually increasing your workout frequency over time for even greater physical fitness improvements. And as always, consult with a healthcare professional or fitness expert to create a plan that suits your specific needs and goals. Keep moving, and stay healthy!
My personal experience of integrating one day a week of cross-training into my dance routine vs. not doing anything has transformed my journey as a dancer. It's not about the quantity of days at my point in my life but the quality of training and consistency. I encourage fellow dancers to consider this approach, as it can bring about remarkable improvements in physical conditioning, injury prevention, mental well-being, and the sustainability of your dance career. Especially if you're a busy mother or dancer like myself.
So, dancers, remember: one day a week of cross-training can be the key to unlocking your full potential. Your body, mind, and dance journey will thank you.
Don't forget to check out my many step by step courses on the cross-training platform and use the code 2023VKB20 for 20% off any plan! Unlimited plan memberships come with monthly live Zoom workshops which I always chat and give feedback to participants!
For a more detailed & custom approach to dance cross-training check out my private lesson spots and book yours today!
References: (Note: While these references were cited in the previous article, they are included here for completeness.)
Smith, D. A., et al. (2014). One Day of Exercise a Week Improves Physical Function and Knee Pain in Knee Osteoarthritis Patients. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 46(3), 546-553.
Caine, D. J., et al. (2016). The Impact of Injury Prevention Programs on the Incidence of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear in Adolescent Female Athletes. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, 15(3), 459-465.
Ekkekakis, P., & Lind, E. (2006). Exercise Does Not Feel the Same When You Are Well Trained as When You Are Not. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 7(4), 323-341.
Hawley, J. A., & Burke, L. M. (1998). Consistency of the Training-Response Relationship for VO2max. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 30(5), 959-965.
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