Are you the type to save dancing for a night out on the town? If so, you might want to consider breaking a sweat more often during your next workout session — research suggests that dancing can offer some serious health benefits. In fact, synchronized exertive movements (think: Zumba, cardio hip-hop, or even old-school jazzercise) have been shown to improve Health-Related Quality of Life (HRQoL) — a measure of how our daily activities affect our overall health and well-being (2). So, when should you break out your best moves? And, how can you make sure you’re getting the most out of your dancing workout? Let’s take a look.
What Exactly Is A Dancing Workout?
A dancing workout is, quite simply, any type of physical activity that gets you moving and sweating to music. In the BetterMe app, for example, you’ll find a variety of workout programs that combine dance with other forms of exercise, like HIIT.
Salsa 101, for instance, is a low-impact cardio workout that features easy-to-follow dance moves set to lively Latin music. Twerk from home, on the other hand, is a high-intensity dance workout that will have your heart racing and your booty shaking.
And if you’re not sure where to start, there’s always the side to side vibes that’s as simple as its name suggests—all you need to do is move your hips from side to side while following the beat.
Is A Dancing Workout The Best Workout For You?
While there’s no one-size-fits-all workout that’s perfect for everyone, dancing can be a great option if you’re looking for a workout that’s fun, effective, and adaptable to your fitness level.
Dancing is also a great way to add some variety to your workout routine. If you’re the type of person who gets bored easily, shaking things up with a dancing workout could help you stay motivated and engaged.
There are several noteworthy benefits associated with dancing, including:
1. Improved Cardiovascular Health
Dancing is an aerobic activity, which means it’s beneficial for your heart health (3). Just like running or cycling, dancing improves cardiovascular health through these mechanisms:
- Increased heart rate: When you dance, your heart rate will increase. This helps strengthen your heart muscle and improve its efficiency.
- Increased blood flow: Dancing also helps increase blood flow throughout your body. This is important because it allows your organs and tissues to receive the oxygen and nutrients they need to function properly.
2. Improved Muscle Strength And Tone
In addition to its cardiovascular benefits, dancing can help build muscle strength and improve muscle tone (3). This is because dancing generally involves moving your entire body, which works all of the major muscle groups.
And, depending on the type of dance you’re doing, you may also be using some smaller muscle groups as well. Although you’re not lifting weights, your body itself provides enough resistance to help build muscle.
3. Improved Coordination And Balance
Dancing improves requires coordination and balance (3). As you move your body to the rhythm of the music, you’ll need to coordinate your arms and legs in a way that feels natural.
This improvement in coordination can carry over into other areas of your life, making everyday activities like walking and climbing stairs feel easier.
4. Improved Flexibility
Improved flexibility and a greater range of motion can help you with other areas of fitness; for example, if you’re a runner, increased flexibility can help you avoid injuries. If you’re strength training, increased flexibility can help you perform exercises with proper form.
5. Improved Mental Health
In addition to its physical benefits, dancing can improve mental health. This is because dancing is a form of exercise, and all forms of exercise have been shown to improve mental health (3). They trigger the release of endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects (1).
Dancing can also help reduce stress and anxiety. And, because it’s a social activity, dancing can also help improve your self-esteem and confidence (3).
6. Improved Weight Control
To lose weight, you must burn more calories than you consume. And, because dancing is a form of exercise, it can help you burn calories and control your weight. It’s especially useful if you combine it with a healthy diet (3).
How Many Calories Does Dancing Burn?
The number of calories you burn while dancing depends on several factors, including:
- Your weight: Heavier people will burn more calories than lighter people.
- The intensity of the dance: The harder you dance, the more calories you’ll burn.
- The duration of the dance: The longer you dance, the more calories you’ll burn.
In the BetterMe app, the dance workouts burn between 80 and 200 calories per half-hour session, depending on the intensity of the workout.
7. Improved Brain Function
The brain, like other parts of the body, benefits from exercise. To dance, you’ll memorize steps, patterns, and choreography. This helps improve your memory and cognitive function.
Dancing can also help to reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. This is because dancing combines aerobic exercise with social and mental stimulation, which are both important for brain health (3).
Which Dancing Workouts Are Best?
The best dancing workouts are the ones that you enjoy and will stick with long-term. Some good options include:
- Zumba: Zumba is a Latin-inspired dance fitness class that’s widely available at gyms and studios. It’s a high-intensity workout that’s great for burning calories and improving heart health.
- Salsa: Salsa is a Latin dance that’s often done as a social activity. It’s a relatively easy dance to learn, and it’s great for improving coordination and flexibility.
- Swing: Swing is a style of partner dancing that’s perfect for beginners. Its origins are in the 1920s, but it’s still popular today. You may not burn as many calories swing dancing as you would with a high-intensity workout like Zumba, but it’s still a great way to get moving and have fun.
- Hip-hop: Hip-hop is a high-energy dance style that’s often used in aerobic workouts. It’s a great way to burn calories and improve coordination.
- Afro-beat: Afro-beat is a style of dance that’s influenced by African and Caribbean music. It’s a high-intensity workout that’s great for improving cardiovascular health.
If intensive gym training is not everyone’s thing then dancing workouts fit everyone. They are invigorating, fun, and motivating. You can find more versatile dancing moves on the BetterMe fitness pal.
Are Dancing Workouts Good If You Have A Health Condition?
If you have a health condition, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting any new workout routine. This is especially important if you have a heart condition or other chronic illness.
That being said, dancing can be a great workout for people with health conditions such as heart disease, high cholesterol or diabetes.
This is because it’s a low-impact activity that can be done at a moderate intensity. While at it, you’ll improve markers of these conditions, like heart rate and blood sugar levels.
If you’re pregnant, dancing can also be a great workout. Just be sure to listen to your body and avoid any moves that are uncomfortable. In your third trimester, you may want to avoid high-impact moves and opt for something low-impact like prenatal yoga or water aerobics instead.
How Often Should You Do Dancing Workouts?
The frequency of your dancing workouts will depend on your fitness goals. If you’re trying to lose weight, you may want to do a dancing workout 3–5 times per week.
Remember, rest is just as important as exercise, so be sure to give your body a day or two of rest each week. Not only will this help your body recover, but it will also prevent burnout.
Tips For Beginners
If you’re new to dancing, there are a few things you can do to make sure you have a positive experience:
Always Warm Up
You wouldn’t think of going for a run without warming up first, and the same goes for dancing. Warming up helps to prepare your body for physical activity and can help to prevent injuries.
A good warm-up should last for about 5–10 minutes and should include some light cardio and stretching. You can do a basic warm-up by marching in place or doing some light jogging. Then, you can add in some stretches for your arms, legs, and back.
If you’re new to dancing, it’s important to start slow and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts. If you try to do too much too soon, you’re more likely to get injured or burnt out.
It’s normal to experience some soreness after the first few times you dance. This is especially true if you’re not used to exercising. To help prevent soreness, make sure to warm up properly and cool down after your workout.
Typically, the soreness should go away after a few days of dancing. If it doesn’t, or if you experience pain, stop dancing and consult a doctor.
Incorporate Activity Into Your Life
The best way to improve your health is to make physical activity a part of your daily routine. While taking a dance class or going to the gym is great, it’s not all you should do.
Find ways to incorporate activity into your everyday life, such as walking or biking to work, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or dancing around the house while you do chores.
Read More: Belly Dancing Weight Loss: Myth Or Fact?
Remember, the best way to stick with any workout is to make sure you’re enjoying it. If you’re not having fun, you’re less likely to stick with it long-term. Find a type of dance that you enjoy and aim for consistent workouts.
Dancing is a great way to get exercise and have fun at the same time. It has many benefits for physical and mental health. And, there are many different types of dance to choose from, so you can find a style that you enjoy.
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!
- Biochemistry, Endorphin (2022, nih.gov)
- Dance Fitness Classes Improve the Health-Related Quality of Life in Sedentary Women (2020, nih.gov)
- Dance – health benefits (2022, betterhealth.vic.gov.au)