Most of the times, my friends will groan and have a whole list of excuses if I ask them to accompany me on a jog. But, if I ask them to do a dance workout class or play Just Dance with me, they will perk up and agree excitedly. Who knows why? And is dancing a workout?
It absolutely is and there are a ton of excellent dance workouts out there to make this point. Dancing and jogging are actually about equal in the calories they help you burn! Both consume around 200 calories in half an hour and do wonders for your heart health. But there are many other reasons why people enjoy dance as exercise.
First of all, there’s not one “best dance workout” there are different dances for everybody that work in different ways. Sophisticated ballroom dancing, modern hip-hop, brisk salsas, graceful ballet, click-clacking tap dance, and giggle-inducing Zumba are just a few kinds of dance classes commonly offered. There are faster dances, slower dances, traditional dances and new 2017 dances, partner dances, and group dances. There are even ethnic and cultural dances that let one learn about another area of the world through their style of dance.
Secondly, dancing for fitness encompasses everything a workout could really include in terms of muscle groups and types of exercise – two in one! While it varies by type, dance is generally moderately intense and uses muscles in the legs, arms, glutes, back, and core. Basically, your whole body is moving and grooving with the music, and your whole body will feel sore the day after! Even your brain will be challenged as you’re learning choreography and working on moving artfully on the beat. While dance doesn’t really include weights (unless a move requires you to carry a partner or hold some props), there’s definitely an aspect of strength training involved. While you might not realize it in the moment, your routine might include lots of dropping and squatting, or other bodyweight exercises. Additionally, dancing is an aerobic workout that will get your heart pumping and endorphins running. It increases your range of motion and flexibility, and can even be low impact at the same time! Strangely enough, using dancing workouts can also boost your overall mood and energy levels.
Finally, dance is accessible to all. Not only are dance studios (and YouTube dance workouts) easily available, but once you learn how to dance you can take your art anywhere — in your house, at a friend’s, or even out on a lawn. For those with injuries, there are many types of inclusive dances that can be performed even with physical limitations. Intensity of dance can likewise be adjusted based on fitness level, regardless of where you start.
While I’m still hopeful that my friends might come on runs with me, I’m happy that we can dance together and exercise in that way too!