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The Most Fun You'll Ever Have Burning Fat

Dance Your Way to Health & Fitness

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If you’re looking for a new way to jazz up your fitness routine, why not try dancing? With the popularity of TV dance shows these days, there’s never been a better time to put on your dancing shoes. Why should celebrities have all the fun?

Even though you’ve probably danced a little here and there, you may not have considered it to be "real" exercise because it’s so enjoyable. This element of fun is exactly what makes dancing such a great way to get in shape—if you like it, you’ll do it more often.

Experts recommend 60 minutes of exercise each day and dancing can be a heart-healthy aerobic workout. If you pick up the pace, you can burn as many calories as walking, swimming or riding a bicycle. Besides being fun, each dance step you take counts toward your "daily 10,000" (the amount of steps experts recommend taking each day for general health). In one study, researchers attached pedometers to square dancers and found that their steps covered nearly five miles in a single evening of dancing.

Reason to Put on Your Dancing Shoes
Treadmills and exercise bikes are great ways to get in shape, but your body can quickly get used to the technique—meaning you begin to see fewer results over time. Dancing, however, is multi-directional and forces your muscles to move in new ways. If you’re doing the foxtrot, you’re taking long, graceful steps backwards, for example—a move you’d never make running on a treadmill. By working your muscles in new ways, dancing can help you get over or prevent that dreaded plateau (when you stop getting results from your fitness routine).

And while it’s easy to zone out on the treadmill for thirty minutes without paying attention to the sensations in your body, dancing is different because it stimulates your mind during the entire session. You have to pay attention to your steps at all times and anticipate your next move, which keeps you connected to your body the entire time, without getting bored.

This mental connection may be just what you need to stay sharp into your senior years too. A 21-year study of senior citizens, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that frequent dancing offered the greatest protection against dementia—a phenomenal 76% reduction in risk as compared to other physical activities like golf.

Not only does dancing increase blood flow to the brain, the social aspect of dance reduces stress, depression and loneliness. The need to memorize steps and work in sync with a partner also provides a mental challenge that keeps the mind active.

Dance also counts as weight-bearing exercise, which means that it can help strengthen bones and fight osteoporosis. It requires agility, balance, and grace—qualities that aren't fostered in a typical gym workout.

Health & Fitness Benefits
If you’re looking to improve your health and fitness level, a wide variety of dance styles can do the trick. From bellydance to square dance, ballet to ballroom, and salsa to swing, you can get a fun aerobic workout that also offers the following benefits: 
  • Stronger bones
  • Greater endurance and stamina
  • Stress relief
  • More flexibility
  • Better posture
  • Improved balance
  • Total body toning
  • Enahnced weight loss
  • Cardiovascular benefits
  • Reduced back pain
  • Calorie Burn (hourly average for a 150-pound person): Ballet (300), Ballroom (265), Bellydancing (380), Salsa (400), Square dancing (300), Swing (280)
Dance Hall Days
If you’re new to the dance scene, you may need some instruction before you can begin. Check your local dance schools to see if they’re open to the public on certain nights for casual dancing or join a class for formal lessons. Most schools accept singles, so you can take part even without a partner. Another option is to try the drop-in classes offered at fitness centers. There are also plenty of dance clubs that accept new members, such as square dance or clogging groups.

If you’re a little shy, don’t forget that you can always crank up the tunes in your own living room and dance away to your heart’s content. The kids can even join in making for a fun family fitness night. So put on your favorite music, grab a partner and start boogying!

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Member Comments

  • See my comment from last month. A month later there's no change. You can't dance to music you can't hear. End of story. We shouldn't be penalized for not being able to do a particular challenge and we aren't credited for checking in unless we mark the box. Not a great system. Sorry
  • I would give anything if this were an option for me. I no longer hear music and it's the one thing I miss most.
  • Another GREAT way to dance is a Flash Mob. Check your local area for a group. I get free rehearsals & get to dance for fun events! Open to all ages, or they will say if for over 18 & above. Truly a FUN experience & I get to learn new chorography. I live in an area that has several groups! I even belong to a group 5 hours away. & do them when I can!
  • I love music and when it is a great song you can't help but dance.

    I will go put on some dancing music right now!
  • I used to dance a lot and never had a weight problem. It was my joy. I could dance every dance until the dawn and still want more! However the DH cannot hear "the beat" so, eventually, we stopped going dancing. I've tried everything I can think of the help him but to no avail. How I miss it!
  • TEXASTOPAZ15
    I moved to Texas last year, and since January have been taking line dance classes. It's a great way to exercise while having fun, and becoming a Texan!
  • I'm totally uncoordinated so I don't know that I'd ever dance.
  • My daughter and I got jazz dance shoes for her birthday. We watch some of her movies which almost always have music in them, and whenever a song comes on, we dance. we also watch Michael Jackson's "This Is It", and a couple other videos we have of his, and we're not allowed to sit during it. Makes for a great workout!
  • We used to square dance, such fun and a good workout.
  • My great grandmother danced until she was almost 100. She was very fit and healthy to around 105, at which time she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She lived until 108, and was still in pretty good shape even then. So I think that dancing is probably very good for our health!
  • I love to dance and I am going to get the hip hop tape and work these pounds off.
  • 498194
    I started taking ballroom dancing last spring and I've been hooked since. Joined in without partner. Didn't care how goofy I'd look learning; that's why I signed up to learn. Over time became more comfortable doing the moves. Made friends with "classmates"; went out to practice as a group; still didn't worry about having no partner. Those who are serious about learning continue on. I guess I'm serious. :) BTW - lost weight and toned along the way. Awesome cardio.
  • I started Jazzercise a couple of years ago, and it is the only exercise program I have ever been able to stick with because it doesn't even feel like you are exercising. It feels like a night out dancing with the girls! I love it so much, and have lost 19 lbs so far.
  • There are some awesome dance games for the Wii also. I dance barefoot in my own home so zero equipment beyond a music source (or a dance game, or a youtube video.
  • I love this article and it came at such a good time. My husband and I took our first dance lesson last night and are going to go back tomorrow night. We are learning the basic steps, rhumba and swing to start off and its so fun! Thanks for the great info here, it is great to get such a good health benefit from something that is so fun!

About The Author

Leanne Beattie Leanne Beattie
A freelance writer, marketing consultant and life coach, Leanne often writes about health and nutrition. See all of Leanne's articles.

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