If you’re not fond of traditional forms of exercise like running, biking and weight lifting, you may want to give dancing a shot.
Often considered a recreational activity, the fitness benefits of dancing sometimes are overlooked. Attend a dance class and you’ll find that your heart rate is elevated and your muscles are working hard.
While you’re having fun, your body is reaping the benefits of physical activity, including:
- Weight management
- Cardiovascular endurance
- Muscular endurance
“Dancing involves movement in all directions and is a great full body workout,” said Karissa Paulsrud, a Marshfield Clinic Health System physical therapist.
Different forms of dancing have different benefits
The workout you get varies depending on the pace of the class and type of movements you do.
Quick-paced aerobic dance classes like Zumba, Jazzercise, step aerobics, salsa and swing are cardio-focused and great choices for weight loss and improving cardiovascular endurance. One hour of fast dancing burns about 400 calories.
Dance classes that involve holding poses, like barre, ballet and ballroom are useful for improving balance, strength and muscular endurance.
Tips for a great dance workout
Follow the standard exercise guidelines if dancing is going to be your main workout. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week and two days of moderate to high-intensity strength training per week. Paulsrud recommends going to three or four dance classes per week.
“Attending dance classes every day could set you up for overuse injuries,” she said. “Dancing involves squatting, twisting, pivoting and jumping that can cause knee, foot and ankle pain. You need to give your body time to rest.”
Increase blood flow and loosen your muscles by warming up before a dance workout. Cool down after your workout by stretching. Warming up and cooling down will improve your flexibility and reduce your risk of injury.
Dancing provides mental health benefits
Like other forms of exercise, dancing can improve your mood. Movement paired with good music is a positive way to escape from stressors in your life and release frustration.
Dancing that involves learning and practicing choreography will improve your memory.
Dance classes and partner dancing can help you meet new people, build friendships or feel closer to a romantic partner.
No matter your ability level, everyone has something to gain from dancing.