Dance is not only fun it can be a great way to burn calories.
According to a survey published by The American Council of Exercise, health experts and fitness specialist unanimously agree that dance has evolved into a form of exercise for weight loss and physical fitness. An hour of dancing can burn up to 400 calories, the same as swimming or riding a bicycle, in addition to a host of other benefits such as improved cholesterol levels, slower heart rate and lower blood pressure.
Any kind of movement can provide fitness benefits. But dancing can be a full body workout. Who doesn’t start to tap their feet to a beat? And you’re more likely to stick to an exercise routine that is fun. The more you stick to the routine, the more likely you are to see results. If you like to dance, dance to your heart’s content. You’ll work muscles in your hips and thighs and with arm movements, your upper extremities. You can even engage your abs to tighten muscles needed for a flat belly with certain types of salsa and belly dancing. Depending on the kind of dance you choose, some help burn calories while others tone muscles and increase flexibility. Pick the style that’s right for you, whether it’s ballet, ballroom dancing, salsa or belly, just get started.
Some factors that determine caloric burn are out of our control. Age and body composition are two such factors. The faster you dance, the more calories you burn. Different types of dance can also help burn different numbers of calories in the same amount of time. A ballet dance class can help you burn twice the calories as a contemporary dance class does.
Choose Your Dance Steps
The length of time you devote to dancing each week will decide the amount of weight you’ll lose since the caloric burn depends significantly on the type of dance you enjoy. Up-tempo dancing burns calories much quicker than slow dancing, which means you won’t have to spend quite as long if you enjoy fast dancing. According to Harvard Health Publications, dances such as the waltz and foxtrot burn calories slowly, while disco, ballroom and square dancing burn calories quicker. Ballet and twist burn calories even faster.
Set Aside a Few Hours
Adults should always strive to get at least 2.5 hours of mild cardiovascular exercise on a weekly basis. For weight loss, however, it’s typically necessary to double your amount of weekly exercise to 5 hours. When setting time aside for your dance workouts, consider the type of dancing you love. If you plan to get all your exercise through fast dancing, 2.5 hours are often enough to get the results you desire. It’s important to remember that everyone’s body is different, so you might lose weight slightly faster or slightly slower than someone else. Your weight loss will also depend on how much weight you have to lose. People with a higher body mass index or BMI are more likely to lose closer to 2-3 pounds a week whereas a person with a lower BMI or of older age may only lose 1-1.5 pounds a week.
Don’t Forget Strength Training and Diet
Remember, losing weight is a matter of creating an imbalance between the number of calories taken in and the number of calories burned. Exercise alone is not effective as a stand-alone weight loss treatment. Dancing several days a week can burn a vast quantity of calories, but a couple other lifestyle changes can increase your ability to lose weight. Strength training at least twice a week is important to strengthen your body and boost your metabolism. Although dancing strengthens your muscles to a point, exercises such as weight training and body-weight exercises count toward your strength-training guideline. A proper diet also increases weight loss. Eliminate unhealthy items from your diet, such as foods high in sugar and saturated fats. Consume small-portion meals loaded with healthy items such as vegetables and lean protein.
Healthier Body and Mind
When you dance several times a week, you’re not just burning fat to lose weight. This form of exercise provides such benefits as better cardiovascular health, resilient bones and muscles and improved balance and coordination. Dancing also contributes positively to your mental health. Dancing improves your memory and, as you dance, you’ll often forget about the stresses of the day. Improving your body can also lead to increased self-confidence.
Divas to the Dance Floor, Please!
If you’re the kind of person who is free of inhibitions or possesses a degree of dance training that rightly puts you on center stage, it’s time to up the ante. Dancing is always more fun in a group, whether it’s girlfriends getting amped up for a Saturday night out or a few of you reliving the “good old days” at the dance studio. A dance party needs a pumped-up playlist, and dance divas require signature moves that match the music. Try the tracks below paired with the dance steps that follow the structure of each song. The moves are simple, so of course you add your own!
“Gettin’ Over You” by David Guetta, feat. Chris Willis, Fergie and LMFAO
Verse: Swing hips around to the right two counts and to the left two counts.
Bridge: Pogo step by jumping right, left, hold right. Repeat to the left, then take a quick breather (grab a drink of water when the music slows down for a few moments).
Chorus: Throw your hands in the air and shift right/left/right in a single, single, double rhythm. Repeat to the left.
“Brokenhearted” by Karmin
Verse: Step-touch right and left, moving in all directions.
Bridge: With feet wide, swerve the upper body side-to-side, alternating single and double rhythms.
Chorus: Step, cross behind, step and tap (a.k.a. “The Grapevine” side-to-side)
“Back in Time” by Pitbull
Verse: Step together, step to the right with arms up, square at elbows. Repeat to the left.
Chorus: Step tap front and back with shoulder shake.
Bridge: Roll the right hip, pivoting on the right foot in a full circle with both arms raised overhead. Repeat to the left.
“Turn Me On” by David Guetta, feat. Nicki Minaj
Verse: Step to the side, sitting into the hip; pick up opposite knee low while crossing opposite elbow over body. Alternate sides.
Bridge: Get low and move in slow motion with feet and arms apart.
Chorus: Strike a pose for two counts, two times; move sexy-style for four counts. Repeat three times and then stay with sexy-style move to finish chorus.
The bottom line: Dance at a gym. Dance at home. Dance via a game. Dance with friends, dance alone. Whatever works for you, just get up and move. The weight loss will follow.