Can you lose weight with dance workouts? It’s no secret that exercise has its many benefits. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), around 150 minutes a week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity is the magic number as it can lower anxiety, reduce the risk of various chronic diseases and help with weight loss. But as stated by the CDCP, around 80% of American adults are failing to hit the suggested guidelines for their aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity goals. But that’s where dance can come in.
You might already be tracking your dance workouts using one of the best fitness trackers, but if you’re wanting to know the science behind this form of exercise then keep reading. We’ve answered whether you can lose weight with dance workouts, what workouts can help you burn the most calories and some top tips for getting the most from your class.
Can you lose weight with dance workouts? The facts
Dancing might help you unwind and have fun, but it can also help you burn some calories and lose some weight too.
As professional dancer Katia Pryce, CEO of DanceBody, told Live Science: "Dance workouts help you lose weight by incorporating high and low intensity intervals. These intervals challenge your heart rate and make you sweat, and you burn calories throughout the entire class. Dance workouts are high intensity interval training in disguise."
And, along with weight loss, dancing can also help to keep your overall health in check.
Pryce continued: "From building stamina and enhancing muscle tone, to aiding cardiovascular health and mood enhancing effects – dance workouts really cover it all. Plus, dancing and music hit directly on the primal reward centers of the brain: cognitively it doesn't get much better than this stress-busting exercise that doubles as athletic conditioning."
And there's science to back this up. According to a 2018 study conducted by The Obesity Society, it's been proven that dance ‘may be effective for promoting weight loss in a population at increased risk for obesity and cognitive decline.'
The same conclusion was reached in a 2018 review published in the Sports Medicine journal, where researchers stated that dance interventions ‘significantly improved body composition, blood biomarkers and musculoskeletal function'.
However, as American Council on Exercise personal trainer Nicole Thompson, relayed to Live Science, dance workouts can certainly help you lose weight, but only when combined with a sensible eating plan.
Thompson said: "When you are active, your muscles need energy (or calories) to fuel contractions and help you move. Therefore, if you are being physically active, like partaking in a dance workout, you are burning calories.
"Moderate-intensity physical activity performed for 250 to 300 minutes per week has been associated with significant weight loss. But again, when it comes to managing a healthy body weight or reaching specific weight-loss goals, it is important to consider both the number of calories being consumed through your diet and the number of calories being burned through physical activity."
Dance workouts that can help burn calories
According to the American Council on Exercise, aerobic dancing is up there with the top forms of exercise for weight loss. As stated by the council, dancing can help a 120 pound person lose 7.4 calories a minute, while it can help a 180 pound person lose 11.1 calories in the same time frame.
The higher intensity form of dance – such as a hip-hop workout – the more calories that will be burned. While a lower intensity form of dance – like the waltz – will still burn some calories, but just not as many.
But whatever type of dance workout you choose, Thompson recommends selecting a form that ‘complements your goals, preferences and current fitness levels'. As weight loss will vary from person to person.
She told Live Science: "As mentioned above, maintained physical activity paired with a healthy diet can help with weight reduction and weight management.
"In the absence of simultaneous caloric restriction, cardiorespiratory exercises in the range of 150 minutes per week has been associated with moderate weight-loss, while 225-420 minutes per week resulted in an average of 13lb loss with a duration of 12-18 weeks (ASCM, 2009).
"For a 160-pound person doing a casual dance, like the waltz, they could burn an estimated 110 calories in 30 minutes. For more intense forms of dance, such as a hip-hop dance routine (or any intense aerobic dance), the number of calories burned could be approximately 250 calories in 30 minutes, which is comparable to performing a light jog for the same duration."
Top tips on dance workouts
So as you can see, you really can lose weight with dance workouts. But the amount of calories you will burn will depend on the length and type of dance workout you are doing.
To get the most from your workouts and decrease the likelihood of injury, professional dancer Pryce has given us some tips.
- Prepare your body. She said: "What you do before your workout can be just as important as the workout itself – this means taking the time to properly warm your body up with dynamic stretching such as arm circles, deep plies, and active lunging. Avoid holding static stretches when your body is still cold."
- Be sure to hydrate: Pryce continued: "Proper hydration before a workout is key. However, I do advise you to be mindful of how much you're drinking during the workout as too much can sometimes cause discomfort as you're moving."
- Have fun and let loose: "Dance is a joyful art form and a dance workout should bring you that same joy," Pryce said. "Don't worry about what you look like or if you're not hitting every beat; just give it your all and you'll be left with a good sweat and in a better mood."
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Becks is a freelance journalist and writer writing for a range of titles including Stylist, The Independent and LiveScience covering lifestyle topics such as health and fitness, homes and food. She also ghostwrites for a number of Physiotherapists and Osteopaths. When she’s not reading or writing, you’ll find her in the gym, learning new techniques and perfecting her form.