Dreading exercise because it all seems like sweat and muscle aches? You’re not alone—now this is where dancing comes in. It’s a fun way to get your heart rate up and release some endorphins, it’s also a great workout for your mind and body. But as with any form of exercise, there are certain things you should keep in mind before starting such a routine. This guide will teach you the basics of how to get started with dancing workouts, the different benefits and drawbacks of dancing as an exercise, and some beginner-friendly dance moves to get you started.
Benefits Of Dancing Workouts
Dancing workouts can be a great tool for improving physical and mental health. Here are some science-backed benefits of dancing:
Improved Heart And Lung Health
Together, your heart and lungs make up the cardiovascular system, which is responsible for delivering oxygen and nutrients to the cells in your body. Aerobic exercise is great for maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system—and dancing is no exception.
When you dance, your heart rate increases and your lungs work harder to supply oxygen to your body. This not only helps to improve heart and lung health, but can also help reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and stroke (4).
Fitness refers to the ability of your body to meet the demands of physical activity. When you’re physically fit, you have great:
- Muscular strength: the ability of your muscles to generate force
- Muscular endurance: the ability of your muscles to sustain repeated contractions or resist fatigue
- Cardiovascular endurance: the ability of your heart and lungs to supply oxygen-rich blood to your muscles during physical activity
- Flexibility: the range of motion of your joints
- Motor fitness: the ability of your nervous system to send signals to your muscles and joints, coordinating movement
Aside from enabling you to function optimally in your day-to-day life, being physically fit also enables you to participate in other types of physical activities, such as sports, with greater ease and less risk of injury.
If you’re looking to manage your weight or even lose some excess pounds, dancing can be a great workout to help you achieve your goals (2). As you move, your body will burn calories—and the more vigorous the dance, the more calories you’ll burn.
What’s more, dancing can help you build muscle, which in turn helps to boost your metabolism and make it easier for your body to burn fat.
Weight management is necessary for maintaining a healthy body weight. Carrying too much weight puts you at risk for developing obesity and other chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
Improved Spatial Awareness
Spatial awareness refers to your ability to perceive and understand the relationship between yourself and your environment. This includes being aware of your own body in space and being able to judge the distance, speed, and trajectory of objects around you.
Dancing can help improve spatial awareness by forcing you to pay attention to your body and the movement of those around you (4). This is especially beneficial for children and older adults, as poor spatial awareness can lead to accidents and falls.
Stronger Bones And Reduced Risk Of Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by weak and fragile bones. Those with osteoporosis are at an increased risk of fractures, even from activities as simple as coughing or sneezing.
Dancing can help to prevent osteoporosis by increasing bone density. It’s a weight-bearing exercise, meaning that it helps to keep your bones strong by working against gravity (6). What’s more, dancing can also help improve balance and coordination, both of which can help reduce the risk of falls—another common cause of fractures in those with osteoporosis.
Improved Mental Health
Dancing can also do wonders for your mental health (2). For one, it can help to reduce stress levels. When you’re stressed, your body releases the hormone cortisol. In small doses, cortisol is beneficial—it helps you to stay alert and focused. But when levels of cortisol become too high, it can have negative effects, such as weight gain, anxiety, and depression.
Dancing can also help to improve cognitive function and memory. One study found that older adults who participated in regular exercise sessions had better cognitive function and memory than those who didn’t.
Improved Social Skills
Dancing is a great way to meet new people and make friends. When you dance, you’re often working with a partner or in a group, which can help to promote teamwork and communication.
And as you become more comfortable dancing, you may find yourself becoming more confident in social situations—on the dance floor and beyond.
Our bodies are constantly changing, and as we grow, we may start to feel less comfortable in our own skin. This can lead to a loss of self-confidence. Dancing can help to increase self-confidence by helping you feel more comfortable in your own body (4).
Furthermore, learning new dance moves and perfecting them can give you a sense of accomplishment and boost your self-esteem. As you become more confident in your dancing abilities, you may find yourself carrying this newfound confidence into other areas of your life.
Intense trainings is not for everyone, but flirty active dancing workouts sound appealing. Get the BetterMe app and dive into the world of salsa, belly dance, Zumba, and many more invigorating dancing masterpieces.
Drawbacks Of Dancing Workouts
Dancing is generally a safe form of exercise—but as with any type of physical activity, there are certain risks involved. Here are a few things to keep in mind before starting a dancing workout:
Risk For People With Asthma Or Respiratory Issues
Dancing is a high-intensity activity that can put strain on your lungs and increase the risk of triggering an asthma attack (1). If you have asthma or another respiratory condition, be sure to talk to your doctor before starting a dancing workout.
Risk For People With Joint Issues
Dancing (especially the high-impact varieties like tap or hip-hop) can put a strain on your joints, which may worsen joint pain or other conditions such as arthritis. If you’re concerned about how dancing might impact your joints, talk to your doctor before starting a workout routine.
Cardiovascular exercise like dancing paired with the wrong diet can lead to muscle loss (3). Here’s why; when you do cardio exercise, your body burns through carbohydrate stores for energy first.
Once those are depleted, your body will start to break down muscle protein for energy. This is more likely to happen if you’re not eating enough protein.
To avoid muscle loss, be sure to pair your dancing workouts with a diet that includes plenty of lean protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. Protein powders can also be a helpful way to ensure you’re getting enough protein in your diet.
Just like any other type of exercise, dancing can lead to muscle soreness, especially if you’re not used to it. Be sure to warm up before your workout and cool down afterwards to help reduce the risk of muscle soreness.
Dancing does come with a risk of injury, particularly if you push yourself too hard or don’t use proper form. To avoid injury, be sure to listen to your body and take breaks as needed. If you’re new to dancing, it may be helpful to take a class or two before starting a workout routine on your own.
Weight Loss Plateau
If you’re using dancing as a way to lose weight, you may eventually reach a weight loss plateau. This is when your body becomes efficient at using energy, and you stop losing weight.
To avoid this, you’ll need to mix up your routine by trying new dance moves, increasing the intensity of your workouts, or adding intervals of other types of exercise.
Incorporating strength training into your routine can also help to build muscle which is metabolically active and can help you continue to burn calories even at rest (5).
5 Of The Best Dance Workouts
There are endless ways to get your body moving through dance. Here are five of the best options to get you started (bonus-these workouts are in the BetterMe app, demonstrated by top trainers. You get a warm up, main workout, and cool down session that’s perfect for any fitness level):
This high-energy dance workout was created in the 1990s and has become one of the most popular fitness trends in recent years. Zumba class typically involves Latin-inspired dance moves set to upbeat music.
Salsa is a popular type of Latin dance that originated in Cuba. It’s known for its fast-paced, energetic moves. Salsa classes typically involve a lot of body movement and can be a great workout.
This high-energy dance style is perfect for those who want to let loose and have fun while working up a sweat. Hip-hop dancing is known for its fast-paced, often athletic moves, and can be a great way to get your heart rate up. It includes funk, soul, and pop music.
4. African Dance
This type of dance is a great way to get your whole body moving. African dance often includes a lot of hip and waist movement, as well as leaping and stomping. It’s a great workout for the whole body and can be a lot of fun. The footwork can be challenging to grasp but it’s well worth the effort.
5. Belly Dance
This sensual, flowing dance is a great way to improve flexibility and coordination while toning your core muscles. Belly dancing is also a great way to relieve stress and tension. It includes moves that originate from the Middle East and North Africa.
The best way to learn how to dance is by finding a class or workshop in your area, or optionally by subscribing to an online dance service like BetterMe. Whichever route you choose, be sure to have fun and enjoy the workout!
Is It Okay To Dance Workout Everyday?
Dancing is a great workout, but like any other type of exercise, it’s important to give your body a rest. It’s generally safe to dance every day, but you may want to take a break every few days to allow your muscles to recover. If you’re new to dancing, you may want to start with a few days a week and gradually increase the frequency as you become more comfortable with the moves.
Is Dancing Better Than The Gym?
The best workout is the one that you enjoy and will stick with. Consistency is key when it comes to reaping the benefits of exercise. If you love to dance and have the skills and resources then it’s a great workout option. However, if you’re not a fan of dancing or don’t have the time or resources to do it then the gym is probably a better option for you.
The Bottom Line
Dancing workout benefits range from weight loss and improved cardiovascular health to increased flexibility and coordination. However, there are also some drawbacks to consider, such as the risk of injury and muscle soreness. Be sure to warm up before your workout and cool down afterwards, and listen to your body to avoid overdoing it.
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. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Asthma and Exercise (n.d., hopkinsmedicine.org)
- Dance as a form of exercise (2007, nih.gov)
- Does Aerobic Training Promote the Same Skeletal Muscle Hypertrophy as Resistance Training? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis (2019, nih.gov)
- Dance – health benefits (2022, betterhealth.vic.gov.au)
- Weight-Loss and Maintenance Strategies (2003, nih.gov)
- What You Can Do Now to Prevent Osteoporosis (n.d., hopkinsmedicine.org)