Dancing as a Workout
How It Works
Get ready to hit the dance floor! Dancing is a whole-body workout that’s actually fun.
It’s good for your heart, it makes you stronger, and it can help with balance and coordination.
A 30-minute dance class burns between 130 and 250 calories, about the same as jogging.
Sign up for a class. Your teacher will lead you through a series of choreographed steps. The focus might be on the footwork, but the series of leaps, turns, shimmies, and cha-chas engage the entire body.
There are lots of options. With dance-inspired workouts ranging from ballroom and ballet to hip hop and club dance classes, you’ll never be bored!
Intensity Level: Medium
The intensity depends on the type of dance you choose. Fast-moving dance styles like hip hop and salsa are more intense than slower dances like the tango or waltz. All of them will use your whole body and will challenge your brain as you learn the choreography and form.
Areas It Targets
Core: Yes. Depending on the type of dance you choose, some of the steps/moves will engage the core muscles.
Arms: Yes. Although most dances focus on your lower body, you’re also using your arms.
Waist: Yes. It is even recommended to also do waist training for weight loss while dancing.
Legs: Yes. The choreography will have you doing moves that work your lower body, including your quads and hamstrings.
Glutes: Yes. Hip hop dancing and ballet include moves that engage the glutes.
Back: Yes. Dance uses your core muscles, including those in your back.
Flexibility: Yes. Most dance-inspired workouts include moves that improve flexibility.
Aerobic: Yes. Dancing raises your heart rate. The more up-tempo the dance style, the better it is for your heart.
Strength: Yes. You won’t be lifting weights, but your body weight counts, helping to build muscle strength.
Sport: No. You can enter dance competitions, but dance can be purely social or artistic.
Low-Impact: Yes. Dancing can be a high-or low-impact workout depending on the style of dancing.
What Else Should I Know?
Cost: Free if you already know how, or the cost of classes if you want lessons at a studio.
Good for beginners? Yes. There are dance classes aimed at beginners. If you’re just starting out, give yourself time to learn the moves. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it will happen eventually!
Outdoors: No. Most dance classes are taught in studios.
At home: Yes. You can dance anywhere.
It depends. Some classes will require specific shoes; for others (like hip hop) all you need are sneakers.
What Physical Therapist Ross Brakeville Says:
Depending on the style, you can improve your heart health, joint mobility, strength, balance/coordination, and an overall sense of well-being, making dance good for most everyone. If you can’t afford classes, try a dance workout DVD or follow an online video at home.
If you have a medical condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure, take note on how you feel before, during, and after dancing. If you’re not feeling right or it takes more than a few minutes to get back to “normal,” check with your doctor before continuing.
Is It Good for Me If I Have a Health Condition?
Dancing is a fantastic activity if you have medical conditions such as heart disease, high cholesterol, or diabetes.
Dancing more intensely, for a longer time, is more of a workout for your heart. You can choose the dance style and intensity level that meets your needs. Your doctor can let you know what’s OK.
If you have an injury, let it heal before you start dancing. If you have other physical limitations, you may have more options than you think. Integrated, or inclusive dance, introduced in the 1960s, is for people with physical and mental limitations. There are dance companies that include dancers in wheelchairs, for instance.
Dancing is a great way to keep fit during pregnancy, especially if you were a dancer before getting pregnant. Be careful with your balance during the second and third trimester, when pregnancy can add stress to your back. Ask your doctor about doing pelvic floor exercises like Kegels and core activities to improve your abs, low back, and hip strength as a complement to your dance training. Finally, you should see the importance of mattress after workout.