You might think of dancing as something you just do at the club on Saturday nights. While dancing is a great way to unwind and have fun, it has so many other benefits, too.
In fact, dancing is an excellent way to exercise, burn fat and calories, and lose weight. So, if you’re looking to add some new moves to your workout routine, read on to learn how dancing can benefit your weight loss efforts.
Like most forms of aerobic or cardio exercise, dancing has many health benefits, including weight loss.
Besides burning a good number of calories, dancing can also increase your muscle strength. Building lean muscle mass may help you burn fat and tone your muscles.
Some of the health benefits of regular cardio exercise, such as dancing, include:
- increased stamina
- improved mobility and flexibility
- a better sense of balance
- improved blood flow
- a stronger immune system
- better sleep
- reduced stress
- reduced risk for certain chronic conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease
Dancing also has mental health benefits. Aerobic exercise may help improve your mood and reduce your risk of depression.
Dancing has extra benefits because it’s often a social activity. Dancing with a partner or in a group can create a sense of community and help you feel more connected to other people.
And just as importantly, it’s a fun activity. When you enjoy doing something, you’re more likely to keep doing it. This is why dancing can be a great way to stay motivated when it comes to exercise for weight loss.
As with most types of exercise, faster, more vigorous forms of dancing will burn more calories than slower dancing. For example, hip hop dancing burns more calories than ballroom dancing.
Below are some examples of how many calories you’ll likely burn during 30 minutes of dancing if you weigh 150 pounds. If you weigh less, you’ll likely burn fewer calories, and if you weigh more, you’ll likely burn more.
Calories burned in 30 minutes
- Ballet: 179 calories
- Ballroom: 118 calories
- Hip hop: 207 calories
- Salsa: 143 calories
- Swing: 207 calories
- Country Western line dancing: 172 calories
- Tap: 164 calories
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
So, if dancing is your main form of exercise, the amount of time you spend doing it depends on how vigorously you dance.
If you’re looking for substantial weight loss (5 percent of your body weight or more) experts recommend at least 300 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week.
There are many different types of dance, all of which offer health benefits and the potential for weight loss.
Many gyms offer dance classes, and there are also plenty of online dance videos you can try to see what form of dance feels right for you.
If you prefer something less structured, you can also just crank up your favorite music in your living room and dance around for 30 minutes or more. If you’re moving and getting your heart rate up, you’re reaping rewards and burning calories.
If you’re interested in specific types of dance classes, here are some popular dance options for exercise and weight loss.
Zumba is a dance fitness program set to Latin and other international music.
It uses interval training, alternating between fast and slow movements. These short bursts of high-intensity exercise help you burn even more calories than just dancing at a consistent speed. And it’s a full-body workout, so you’re able to tone and strengthen many of your muscles.
Zumba has many other health benefits, including:
- weight loss, with an average calorie burn of 9.5 calories per minute
- decreased pain sensitivity, according to a
- social benefits and a feeling of community, since it’s a group workout
The choreography in Zumba isn’t meant to be formal, so you can join in as long as you keep moving. Many gyms and community centers offer classes that welcome all fitness levels.
Hip hop dancing is a high-intensity, high-impact form of dancing. It includes everything from break dancing to modern dance-like moves. Some gyms may offer hip hop dance classes, but there are also many online videos available to help you become familiar with hip hop choreography.
Benefits of hip hop dancing include:
- a high calorie burn
- muscle strength, especially leg and core strength
- increased agility and coordination
A lot of hip hop dance involves repetitive motion, much of which is high-impact. These moves can lead to injuries if they’re done incorrectly or if you don’t give yourself time to rest in between dance sessions.
Ballet is a form of classical dance that focuses on precise movements and technique. While the slow movements of ballet may not burn as many calories as other types of dance, it can still help improve your health and fitness with:
- increased muscle strength and tone, especially in your legs and core
- increased flexibility, agility, and coordination
- improved your posture
Many dance studios offer ballet classes for all levels.
If you’re interested in ballet movements, you may also want to try barre classes. These classes, which are offered at many specialty studios or gyms, incorporate ballet, yoga, and Pilates into a workout based on small isometric movements.
Pole dancing, also called pole fitness, can be a great form of exercise. It involves moves like holding yourself up on the pole, twisting yourself around, and creating shapes with your body.
In addition to providing cardio exercise, some of the benefits of pole dancing include:
- improved flexibility, especially in your back and legs
- increased muscle strength, especially in your upper body
- fat burning due to strength training movements
A word of caution: Pole dancing requires a lot of gripping and twisting. You may want to opt for a different form of dance if you have hand, wrist, shoulder, knee, or back injuries. It’s also important to train with an instructor to avoid injury.
Ballroom dancing includes partner dances like the waltz, foxtrot, and tango. Even salsa dancing can count as a type of ballroom dancing.
While there’s competitive ballroom dancing, it’s also a great workout for amateurs. Check your local community center or dance centers in your neighborhood to see if they have ballroom dancing classes you can attend.
Ballroom dancing can provide benefits like:
- increased muscle strength, especially in your core, legs, and back
- increased flexibility
- improved balance
- cognitive benefits, such as exercising your memory as you work to remember the steps
This is a low-impact type of dancing, so it’s a great way to get aerobic exercise if you have joint issues.
As with any exercise, there are safety precautions to bear in mind to minimize your risk for injury. Following these tips may help you stay safe while dancing:
- Warm up by doing dynamic stretching before you start to dance.
- Drink water during and after exercise.
- Make sure your form is correct. Incorrect form increases your risk for injury. If you’re exercising in a group and need help, ask the instructor. If you’re exercising on your own, an instructor at a gym may be able to help you. Dancing in front of a mirror can also help you ensure that you’re moving correctly.
- Consider doing moves in half-time at first.
- If you feel pain at any point, stop. Some forms of dancing might be hard or challenging, but it should never hurt.
- Make sure the area around you is uncluttered to avoid tripping or falling.
- Take rest days.
- Cool down after you dance.
- If you have an injury, are pregnant, or have an underlying medical condition, talk with your doctor before starting a dance program.
Dancing is a great way to boost your fitness, lose weight, and gain other health benefits. And it’s a form of exercise that’s often a lot of fun and done in a group setting, which may motivate you to keep at it over the long term.
You can try dancing on your own to your favorite tunes, or you can opt for a more structured format by joining a dance class or group session at your gym or local dance studio. There’s also the option of following along to online videos that focus on dance moves to lose weight.
What’s most important is to find the style and type of dance that you most enjoy. If your goal is to lose weight, aim for more than 150 minutes of moderate intensity dance or 75 minutes of high-intensity dance each week.