It’s hard to tell what drives away from weight loss more: training or dieting. While being most oft-recommended practices to lose weight effectively, these two can be pretty unappealing, especially in their extreme versions. At the same time, dancing to lose weight is rarely even considered an option – it is either something for kids, or just a leisure activity. In reality, regular and energetic dance sessions can surely shed your pesky pounds away. Dancing in the living room is perhaps one of the most fun and financially undemanding ways to melt away your fat. Can you lose weight by dancing in your room? How many calories do you burn while dancing? What dance form is best for weight loss? This article will give you all the answers and tips you need to get your heart pumping to your favorite bops.
A Short History Of Dance
Okay, everyone intuitively understands what dancing is. This practice is so widespread in pretty much all societies around the world that it can be considered an essential component of culture. But why is it so?
The oldest proof of existence of dancing in human cultures comes from the 9000 year old cave paintings that were found in India. These inscriptions depict various scenes of hunting, childbirth, religious rites, burials, communal drinking, and dancing. Finding clear evidence about dancing rituals in ancient cultures is a challenging task, that is why scientists try to piece together all the facts from secondary sources like cave paintings. The period when dancing started spreading around the world can be traced back to the third millennia BC. At this time, Egyptians started using dance as integral parts of their religious ceremonies. After looking at various ancient tomb paintings, it was concluded that Egyptian priests used musical instruments and dancers to mimic important events of their culture – stories of gods and cosmic patterns of moving stars and sun (7).
In ancient Greece, various dances were frequent both as parts of important rituals, and for entertainment or seduction. Dancing is one of the oldest and most popular forms of self-expression. The boom and rapid development of dancing in modern Europe began during the Renaissance period, and continues to these days.
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Dancing For Exercise
While dancing is viewed as a go-to entertainment activity for many, its weight loss and cardiovascular benefits are often kept in the shade.
Dancing has multiple benefits for your health. Many dance moves target your core, arms, quads and hamstrings, glutes, and back (5). The range of physical benefits here is incredibly high, and dancing as an activity can be suitable for people of all ages and sizes.
So, the benefits of dancing include (4):
- improved health of your heart and lungs
- strengthened muscles, improved endurance and motor fitness
- enhanced aerobic fitness
- enhanced muscle tone and strength
- assistance in weight loss
- stronger bones and reduction of the risk of osteoporosis
- improved coordination, agility and flexibility
- better balance and spatial awareness
- more physical confidence
- boosted intellectual performance
- better general and psychological well-being
- boosted self-confidence and self-esteem
- improved social skills
How Dancing Results In Weight Loss?
Should you dance for weight loss at home? Undoubtedly yes. Dancing helps you lose weight, first and foremost, because it burns calories. Obviously, the number of calories burned depends on the intensity of your dance session. Whether you’re slowly waltzing or energetically moving in a Zumba session, determines the number of calories burned while dancing. How many calories can you burn dancing?
A 125-pound person burns about 90 calories in 30 minutes of slow dancing, 165 calories in disco or ballroom and 180 calories in fast or ballet dancing (3).
At the same time, a 155-pound person burns 112 calories in 30 minutes of slow dancing, 205 calories from disco or ballroom and 223 calories from fast or ballet dancing. A 185-pound person burns roughly 133 calories in 30 minutes of slow dancing, 244 calories from disco or ballroom dancing and 266 from fast or ballet dancing.
So, as you can clearly see, the number of calories you’ll burn while dancing depends both on the intensity of dancing you choose and your bodyweight.
As you already know, dancing is a helpful and effective tool to lose weight if practiced efficiently. Can you lose weight by dancing in your room? Definitely.
Still, some dances are better for weight loss, some a bit less productive. What dance form is best for weight loss?
Easy Dances To Learn And Lose Weight
This type of dance is the easiest to learn because, in essence, you don’t have to learn anything. Freestyle dance is improvisation, when you move freely and without any plan. It was born in the early 1970s when dancers began to show off their freestyle skills on the streets and in different public areas (6). Several crucial locations that contributed to the birth and growth of freestyle dancing were in New York and Los Angeles, while Jamaica played a huge role in the reincarnation of reggae seen in particular forms of freestyle dance.
Because there are no strict rules in freestyle dancing, it can be literally anything, and can be practiced by literally anyone. In freestyle dancing, you can unleash your creativity and discover new sides of yourself. If you want to lose weight, choose fast rhythms that boost your energy levels and pump you up to dance non-stop. To lose weight, practice freestyle dance for 30 minutes a day.
Hip hop originated on the streets and hip hop sessions are almost equivalent to a full-blown workout for those trying to cut down their extra pounds. The high energy movements performed in this dance form work your entire body. In particular, the steps in hip hop focus on your waist and hip region which help you tone up your abs. An hour-long hip hop session a couple of times a week will help you lose weight in the most enjoyable way possible.
This is an amazing form of art that helps you tone up different areas of your body like hips, back, and abs. Belly dancing is all about slow and controlled movements that help you improve flexibility and blood circulation. When you shake your belly, you burn calories, and shape your butt. Of course, it also burns abdominal and thigh fat. It strengthens your muscles and enhances posture, freeing you from back pain. It is a low-impact type of physical activity, and it is safe for your bones. By shaking your belly for an hour, you can burn up to 300 calories (2). Although belly dancing can not be considered an aerobic exercise, it can become a crucial part of your training regimen. You can sign up for a class or practice belly dancing at home. Belly dancing improves the flexibility and fitness of your whole body.
Salsa dancing is emerging as a vibrant and refreshing alternative both to other, more popular dances, and to traditional workouts. It has deep Caribbean and African roots, and is especially popular in Latin America (8). Various classes based on Salsa, Mambo, Cumbia, and other techniques are emerging everywhere, offering energetic and passionate experiences. Dance movements of salsa alternate between very slow and insanely dynamic. A salsa session is a first-class workout. Salsa merges aerobic and anaerobic training, improving your stability and strengthening your legs. You can burn up to 420 calories by dancing salsa for an hour.
Zumba includes salsa, rumba, merengue, and hip hop moves in its dance program, thus giving you an effective cardio workout. It is a high-energy type of aerobic exercise inspired by latin dance culture, and it can be a fun way to increase your physical activity and daily calorie burn. Zumba was proven to be an extremely effective way to burn calories.
In a 2012 study (9) of 19 healthy female Zumba participants ages 18 to 22 burned an average of 9.5 calories per minute during a 40-minute class. That resulted into an average of 369 calories total in about 40 minutes. That was more calories burned than while kickboxing, performing step aerobics, or power yoga.
Of course, you can practice Zumba alone, since it does not require a partner. However, many gyms offer Zumba classes for an affordable price.
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Tips To Start Dancing (1)
Learn Different Dance Types
There are so many different dance types that choosing only one may be a difficult task. The answer to this is very simple: try as many types as you want! Obviously, if you want to become a professional dancer, you’ll eventually need to choose your specialization. But if you’re simply looking to lose weight by dancing, the variety here is an advantage. Learn a little about different styles, rather than exclusively focusing on one, and have fun!
Listen To The Rhythm And Feel The Music
Most people dance because they are inspired by a beat or can’t resist the tune. To become a grade ‘A’ dancer, you need to feel the music and express it through your movements. Listen to music connected to the dance style you prefer as much as possible to get familiar with it.
Look Up, Not Down
A widespread mistake among beginner dancers is looking at your own feet while dancing. This error is natural, and yet you need to avoid it. Dancing is in fact not about seeing, but about feeling.
Instead of staring at your feet, try to remember how your steps feel, with the shifting of your weight and changes in direction registering in your mind. If you’re dancing with a partner, try to follow their steps, so that your movements were in sync.
Dance With Different Partners
Wanting to dance with your partner or friend in the beginning is natural. It’s a great bonding opportunity or a way to catch up on “quality time”. Let go of all the worries swarming in your head, shake off the stress, and try to turn each dancing practice into an opportunity to discover something new about your partner.
Relax And Have Fun
Remember, dancing is meant to be fun, not a chore or something to get worried about. Dancing is supposed to help lower your blood pressure, not raise it, so don’t stress out.
Especially when you’re practicing dancing for weight loss, you should never be ashamed of your dancing skills. Remember: you’re there to shed those pounds in a fun way, not to become a famous professional.
Can you lose weight by dancing in your room? Undoubtedly yes. Even more so, you can lose weight by dancing in a group class, or in the streets, or pretty much everywhere. Dancing is an empowering practice that can make you not only lose weight, but also become more confident in yourself, find new friends, and explore your personality. You can choose from a wide variety of dances, from zumba to hip hop, to achieve your weight loss goals.
While dancing is a sure way to burn some calories, you need to understand that it is essential to modify your diet as well. Dancing can be a viable alternative to working out, but it is not an alternative to a healthy diet. You need to include whole grains, plant and seafood proteins, leafy greens, nuts, legumes, fruits, and berries in your daily diet to yield the most from your weight loss plan. It is also essential to maintain a caloric deficit, but not too extreme, as extreme diets may be deleterious to your health. Besides, keeping your water intake high is immensely important. Water delivers essential nutrients to all organs, supplies oxygen to the lungs, and maintains heart function.
Gulping a glass of water before your meal will help you eat less and feel full faster. Drink a glass of lemon water every morning to support your immune system and amplify your weight loss results.
Supplement your dancing routine with this 20 Min Full Body Workout at Home challenge!
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 5 Tips For Dance Beginners (n.d., realbuzz.com)
- 10 Simple Dances To Help You Lose Weight Easily (2019, stylecraze.com)
- Can Dancing for 30 Minutes a Day Help You Lose Weight? (2020, livestrong.com)
- Dance – health benefits (n.d., betterhealth.vic.gov.au)
- Dancing as a Workout (n.d., webmd.com)
- Freestyle dance: 4 tips from the pros to expand your skills (2020, redbull.com)
- History of Dance (n.d., dancefacts.net)
- Salsa Dance: Origin, History & Steps (n.d., study.com)
- Zumba®: Is the “Fitness-Party” a Good Workout? (2012, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)