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Dancing For Weight Loss: A Fun Way to Burn Calories

Dancing is a universal form of expression and communication used by humans for centuries. Various forms of dance are part of several cultures, societies or ceremonies. Dance has numerous forms, each with its movements and expressions that vary from one another. There is a form of dance for every age and ability ranging from elaborate classical dancing to just grooving to the music. 

Dancing has countless physical and psychological benefits. There is a reason people like to dance away the night when they are having a hard time at college or work. This physical activity also appeals to people who might find regular workouts hard, typical and boring. 

Dancing has been recommended as an alternate treatment modality by physicians worldwide for quite some time. As a result, it has become a known remedy to prevent and treat many physical and psychological conditions. In this article, we try to explore the various dance forms and how we can use them to lose weight. 

Dancing to Combat Physical Inactivity 

Regular physical activity is proven to help prevent and manage chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and several cancers. It also helps prevent hypertension, maintains healthy body weight, and improves mental health, quality of life and well-being.  

Despite the numerous benefits, the levels of physical inactivity are very high globally. According to WHO, current global estimates show that one in four adults and 81% of adolescents do not do enough physical activity. Unfortunately, as the countries develop further, the levels of inactivity keep increasing. 

The comfort and ease of modern lives have led to growing sedentary behaviours and lifestyles. Increased levels of physical inactivity negatively impact health and quality of life. Also, the convenience of having everything at your fingertips has led many of us to let go of the necessary amounts of exercise our body needs to function correctly.

Dancing is one of the alternate modes of exercise, and you can use it as a way to stay fit. It is for people of all ages, shapes and sizes. According to research, undertaking structured dance of any genre is equally and occasionally more effective than other types of exercise.

Benefits of Dancing 

Dancing has a wide range of positive outcomes on physical and mental health. It improves the condition of the heart and lungs and increases muscular strength, endurance and motor fitness. It also increases stamina and balance. Dancers are also reportedly more flexible than their non-dancer counterparts. If you have a friend who used to be a dancer, you will notice that performing some yoga poses is much easier for them compared to you. It also helps build stronger bones, which correlates to a lower chance of osteoporosis. 

There is increased coordination and improved balance, along with greater spatial awareness. Finally, you will notice that letting go of your self-consciousness is easier once you start dancing. That is because dancing also enhances self-confidence and social skills. 

Research indicates that dance as a participation-based physical exercise reduces anxiety and depression by increasing dopamine and serotonin levels. These are feel-good hormones that help you feel good after the session.

Dancing to Lose Weight

Losing weight can only be achieved by being in a calorie deficit. Therefore, the number of calories burnt should be greater than the number consumed. Most forms of dancing are a form of aerobic exercises or what is known as cardio. In general, faster dance forms like hip hop and jazz will burn more calories than slow dances like contemporary dancing.

Zumba

Zumba is a dance that involves Cardio and Latin-inspired dance. There is no right or wrong way to do Zumba.  The motto of Zumba is  “Ditch the workout, join the party” and emphasises moving to the beat of the music. The music combines the dance styles of cumbia, salsa, merengue, mambo, flamenco, chachacha, reggaeton, soca, samba, hip hop music, axé music, and tango.

A study indicates that Zumba burns around 9.5 Kcal/min of energy. The typical session of Zumba lasts for about 40 minutes and averages around 369 Kcal of energy expenditure. The energy burned will also depend on the intensity of the workout. Thus, regular participation in Zumba can positively affect body composition and aid in weight loss as long as you mind your calories. It also shows some degree of positive effects on strength and flexibility. 

Zumba offers many different options and is generally considered safe for individuals of every age. However, trainers specifically aim some classes at elderly individuals as the courses for younger people tend to be more high-intensity. According to a study, besides its high calorie-burning benefit, Zumba can also help lower the risk of heart disease. Research also shows its effects on reducing blood pressure. In addition, it also positively influences your lipid profile as it decreases the bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol. 

Freestyle Dancing

Freestyle is a way of dancing in which the dancer improvises their moves on the spot as they dance instead of having them planned. It is a free and raw dance form where you express yourself with your entire body. It can be freeing and helps unwind after a long work day. You can include various basic movements of structured exercises like squats to work your body more. As long as you are moving your body, you are burning calories. However, restrict yourself from trying extreme moves that are incompatible with the level of your fitness. It may lead to injuries and other problems.

Hip Hop Dancing

Hip hop is a range of street dance styles, including breaking, locking and popping. It has evolved along with hip-hop music and has become a part of hip-hop culture. It is perfect for every age group and can be incredibly vigorous. Furthermore, it is a fast dancing form and burns many more calories when compared to other dance forms. Hip-hop is an entertaining dance form. You can practise it by attending studio sessions or online classes. In addition, it is highly intensive, so one needs to be careful and do proper warm-up exercises beforehand.

Pole Dancing

Pole dancing concentrates around a pole and focuses on acrobatics and dancing. As per ACSM guidelines, you can classify an advanced-level 60-minute pole dancing class as a moderate-intensity cardiorespiratory exercise. When completed for ≥30 minutes, ≥5 days a week (total ≥150 minutes) satisfies the recommended level of activity for improved health and cardiorespiratory fitness. Pole dancing builds upper body and core strength. It also helps in building muscular endurance and coordination. You can use pole dancing as both an aerobic and anaerobic workout. It is also an empowering dance form for women.

Tap Dancing

Tap dance is a form of dance characterised by using the sounds of tap shoes striking the floor as a form of percussion. They use a special kind of shoes that produce metallic sounds. It helps in building lower body strength and coordination. However, the number of calories lost is lesser than in other dance forms. Nevertheless, you can still use this form of dancing to lose weight if you enjoy it, as the love for the form will motivate you to practice it daily. 

Ballroom Dancing

Ballroom dancing has been considered a sport more than a dance form due to the immense amounts of stamina required for this dance form. You do this in pairs, with one individual leading while the other follows. It takes high levels of spatial awareness and allows you to develop the same. It also requires proper posture; practising this dance form can help you maintain a good posture. You can try out ballroom dancing if you have a desk job and tend to sit in front of a screen all day. 

Ballroom dancing includes four significant styles: waltz, tango, foxtrot and quickstep. Waltz is the most traditional type of ballroom dancing which is better for beginners as this style forms the base for ballroom dancing. Tango is an animated version with a lot of expressions and vibrant music. On the other hand, quickstep is the faster variation which requires efficient and neat movements. It is quite an advanced dance form.

Ballroom dancing is an excellent workout as it increases stamina, flexibility and posture. In addition, you can join beginner classes and slowly build up your fitness level.

Dance Workouts 

Dance Workouts have become incredibly popular with various fitness channels. These dance workouts are primarily cardio-based exercises carefully choreographed to have a flow. They include various forms of structured body exercises like squats and jumps. Dance workouts increase flexibility and allow better coordination. They are fun, and you can do them in the comfort of your home. These dance videos have a duration ranging from 10 to 30 minutes. Choose videos based on the intensity level required and your mood. Therefore, this is the perfect choice if you enjoy the privacy of your home and don’t like to join classes where you have to interact with people.

The HealthifyMe Note

All forms of dancing can help you stay fit. Even classical Indian forms like Bharatnatyam, Kathak, Mohiniyattam and Odissi are extremely good for staying graceful and fit. Also, the beauty of these dance forms is that you keep learning emotionally satisfying skills with practice. On the other hand, pop forms are essential to de-stress and stay in shape. So, if you are not into gymming, pick up a form that appeals to you and see your body changing. 

Important Points to Consider Before You Start

If you are planning to lose weight by dancing, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. 

Understand Your Fitness Level

First things first, it is crucial to understand the fitness level of your body. Jumping into intense dances from the get-go can cause injuries. According to studies, injuries are extremely common in dancers. It is often difficult for individuals without prior experience to try ballet or traditional dance forms. Zumba is a versatile dance form that caters to individuals of every fitness level. Dance Workouts are also divided into light, moderate and intense. So choose accordingly to avoid injuries.

Understand Your Goals

Each form of dance allows change in body composition and can help reduce weight. However, few dance forms help you in burning more calories than others. For example, hip-hop can help you burn more calories than dance workouts. Some dances have bonus advantages. For example, ballet enables you to gain balance, while Zumba allows flexibility. Latin dances are very useful for gaining spatial awareness. Depending on your goals, go for the dance form you like. 

Stretch Before You Dance

Dynamic stretching or warming up is a must before dancing. Never do static stretching before dancing. It reduces the heart rate and decreases the intensity threshold you can reach. Dynamic stretching is a stretch that is an active movement as a result of muscle contraction—for example, circling the ankle or shoulders or controlled leg and arm swings. Lighter versions of other exercises are also acceptable for warming up. 

The amount of calories burnt through dancing depends on the intensity and style. It also depends on the weight of the person. Therefore, the greater the person’s weight, the more calories are burnt. The average person will burn 300-800 calories per hour while dancing. 

The formula used for calculating the number of calories burnt per minute is

Calories burned per minute = (MET x body weight in Kg x 3.5) ÷ 200

“MET” measures the energy cost of physical activity for a particular period. 

Below are the number of calories burnt per hour of dancing for different dance forms.

Ballroom, slow: 215 caloriesTap Dance: 344 caloriesAerobic dance, low impact: 358 caloriesAerobic, general: 523 caloriesFreestyle Dancing: 558 caloriesKathak: 300-400 caloriesBharatnatyam: 400-500 calories

Please note these are an approximation based on an hour-long session. 

The HealthifyMe Note

Dancing is a creative form of self-expression. It works at several levels. Syncing your movements with rhythm and music enhances coordination and agility. It improves your lungs and heart health. Dancing strengthens muscle tone and helps in weight management. 

Summary

Dancing is an excellent way to lose weight. It can be helpful for individuals who find routine workouts boring. It is a perfect way to introduce physical activity to people with a sedentary lifestyle. Research has proven that dance routines are as effective as workout routines for losing weight. Dancing is also suitable for individuals of all ages and abilities. It has also been proven to affect cardiovascular and mental health significantly. It is a good option for de-stressing. Dancing strengthens muscle tone and helps in weight management. 

You should choose the form of dancing based on interest and physical capability. For example, it is difficult for a person with no physical training to jump into ballet, one of the most complex forms of dance. It is also essential to decide on the duration of your sessions based on your goals, as different forms burn different levels of calories. You can also mix and match the forms. For instance, you can alternate between Zumba and freestyle. To conclude, dancing is an excellent method of losing weight while having fun.

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