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5 Health Benefits of Dancing (and why you should start ASAP)
When it comes to workouts, experts say dance may be the best exercise out there.
Whether you’re the first one out on the dance floor or not, there’s never been a better time to incorporate dance into your exercise routine. At this point in the year, we’re all craving a departure from our traditional workouts. And that’s where dance comes in.
“With so many people still stuck at home, there is a lot of energy and emotion trapped inside of us,” says Genna Moroni, an LA-based dancer and choreographer. “People are searching for a cathartic release. Working out is great, but it doesn’t always tap into the joy or endorphins that dance does.”
Many types of dancing offer benefits for both the body and mind. Hip-hop has been shown to improve energy and lower stress just as well as aerobic exercise. Belly dancing strengthens core muscles and helps improve digestion. Ballet increases flexibility and helps your posture (and mood). We could go on and on...
Besides the obvious health benefits, dancing is FUN. Here’s a list of five reasons why it’s time to cut a rug and break out your dancing shoes.
IT’S A CARDIO POWERHOUSE
No matter which kind of dance workout you do, if it’s quick-paced, estimates suggest you’ll burn about 200 calories in 30 minutes. That’s on par with swimming and downhill skiing. So, if you were wondering if dance is good exercise, the answer is a resounding yes.
“Dance typically engages the full body, which allows for more control and integration of muscles,” says Dr. Scott Ruth, a physical therapist and personal trainer with a focus on dancers. “During dance, we see the typical changes of exercise — increased heart rate and endorphin release — but also improvements to mood, mental ability and agility.”
IT MAKES YOU BENDY
As we get older, our bodies lose water in our tissues and spine, which leads to joint stiffness and loss of elasticity. Working on our flexibility can help counteract this natural process.
“Dance works different ranges of joint motion, which gives you more mobility and in-depth control,” says Dr. Ruth. “On top of this, you can expect improved balance and coordination.”
Just like a runner needs a great running shoe, a dancer needs workout clothes that help them move freely in any direction. Make sure to stock up on dance gear that looks as good as it performs.
IT WORKS YOUR ENTIRE BODY
If you’re stuck doing the same workout day after day, your body will eventually adjust and you’ll stop seeing the results you used to. Incorporating dance into your exercise program will help develop muscles you weren’t using before. That being said, especially if you’re new to a dance workout, it’s important to start off slow and invest in proper footwear to prevent exercise injuries.
“As with any new exercise, start dancing gradually,” says Dr. Ruth. “Start with a short class and monitor how you feel. And don't stretch too aggressively. Instead, focus on gentle stretches and active control in those positions.”
IT’S GOOD FOR YOUR BRAIN
There’s a time and a place for ultramarathons, but as of late, we’ve been craving some workouts that require low effort but provide max results. Enter dance and all its health benefits.
A dance workout is not only good for your physical health, it’s also amazing for your mental health. In a 2011 study that examined 120 students taking dance movement therapy for depression, researchers found that these students felt less depressed at the end of three months.
“Dance is almost like therapy,” Moroni says. “It poses many beneficial challenges for the body and mind. There’s a yin and yang between control and freedom: repetition of movements, the challenge of mastering qualities and the ability to trust yourself. The physical and mental benefits of dancing are intertwined.”
IT’S FUN (DUH) & ACCESSIBLE
Like walking, almost anyone with a body can dance. Throw away excuses about lack of rhythm or coordination - you can do this! Get inspired by a group dance workout like Dance Church, where upwards of 10,000 people stream virtual classes. Or 305 Fitness, a dance-based cardio workout with a live DJ. Many of these exercise classes offer free sessions and free trials.
Dancing for exercise at home gives you an excuse to curate new playlists. “Music influences the body, which then creates movement,” says Moroni. “You can even let movement shape the body into a rhythm. The relationship between music, body and movement is subjective to the individual.”
Finally, dance gives you the opportunity to change up your dance-from-home workout looks. From apparel to dance shoes, the options are endless. For a dance workout where you’re going to sweat a lot, Moroni recommends a high-rise short and a sports bra with mesh for breathability. If you really want to look the part, the cardio bodysuit is a must. Then, post-workout, slip on a cover-up with an elastic hem.
Ready to get into the groove?