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Dance your way to fitness

Do you think you can dance? If you are not sure, why not give it a try? Dancing is an exciting and social way to work out your body. From ballroom to salsa, dancing works your heart and helps build strong bones and muscles. Because dancing is so much fun, you may forget you are exercising.

Health Benefits of Dance

Dancing combines the benefits of aerobic plus weight-bearing exercise. When you dance, you get many physical and mental health benefits, including:

  • Better heart health
  • Stronger muscles
  • Better balance and coordination
  • Stronger bones
  • Lower risk of dementia
  • Improved memory
  • Reduced stress
  • More energy
  • Improved mood

Types of Dance

There are dance styles to fit almost anyone and any mood. The kind you choose may depend on what is available in your area and your own taste in dance or music. If you have danced before, you can pick up where you left off. Or you may decide to choose something new.

Here are some types of dance you may want to try:

  • Salsa
  • Flamenco
  • Ballroom
  • Tap
  • Swing
  • Square dancing
  • Contra dancing
  • Belly dancing
  • Line dancing
  • Tango
  • Jazz dancing
  • Ballet
  • Modern dance
  • Hip-hop
  • Folk
  • Clogging

Other Ways to Dance

If traditional dance does not appeal to you, there are other ways to get moving to rhythm and music. Many health clubs and fitness centers offer dance workout classes, such as Zumba. These classes mix moves from many styles of dance into a fun, vigorous program for people of all ability and fitness levels.

Dance video games and DVDs are also a way to get dancing in the privacy of your own home. You can buy them or borrow them from your local library. Or, just turn up the music at home and dance in your living room.

How Dancing Compares to Other Exercise

The workout you get from dance depends on the type of dancing you do and for how long you do it. For example, ballroom dancing will give you a moderate workout. This is about the same level of exercise you would get from walking briskly or doing water aerobics. Most types of ballroom dancing burn about 260 calories in an hour.

More intense types of dance, such as salsa or aerobic dancing, will give you a more vigorous workout that is similar to jogging or swimming laps. You can burn up to 500 calories an hour with these types of dance.

How to get Started

Look for classes at dance schools, health clubs, or community centers. DO NOT worry if you do not have a partner. Many classes will find you a partner if you do not have one. Some types of dancing, such as tap and line dancing, do not require a partner.

If you are new to dance or you have been inactive, start with a beginner class. A beginner class will be easier to follow and will reduce your risk for injury. As you build your skill and fitness, you can try more advanced classes. You may even want to add new types of dance.

Not sure what type of dance to choose? Ask if you can watch a few classes first. Once you start a class, be patient. It can take some time to learn how to move your body and feet together with the music.

Alternative Names

Exercise - dance; Wellness - dance

References

American Council on Exercise. What are the benefits of dance-inspired workouts? Updated November 11, 2009. www.acefitness.org/acefit/healthy-living-article/60/99/what-are-the-benefits-of-dance-inspired. Accessed July 10, 2016.

American Council on Exercise. Zumba Fitness: Sure It's Fun, But Is it Effective? www.acefitness.org/certifiednewsarticle/2813. Accessed July 10, 2016.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Measuring Physical Activity Intensity. Updated June 4, 2015. www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/measuring/index.html. Accessed July 10, 2016.

Heyn PC, Hirsch MA, York MK, Backus D. Physical activity recommendations for the aging brain: a clinician-patient guide. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2016;97(6):1045-1047. PMID: 27233994 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27233994.

Review Date 7/13/2016

Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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