Fitness dance can be a fun, exciting and low-impact complement to an exercise walking routine. While walking is a fitness favorite with a slew of proven health benefits, adding other exercises to your walking routine can help reduce your risk of injuries and develop different muscle groups. Not to mention you can stave off the infamous “workout boredom” and make your exercise something you want to do! With exercise opportunities becoming a bit limited lately, particularly the temporary lack of group exercise options, it’s time to get creative and mix up your fitness routine to include something other than just your daily walk or jog.
Read on for an introduction to dancing for exercise, two popular dance options, and how you can get creative and add dance moves to your walking for fitness routine.
Why Try Dance?
The list of proven benefits for introducing dance into your exercise routine is a lengthy one. It includes:
- Improved cardiovascular strength
- Improved balance
- Decreased stress on the body compared to some more traditional exercise methods
- Boosts cognitive performance
Because dance engages all the different target areas of our body, it significantly reduces the risk of overuse injuries like sprains, tendon tears, and other common muscle injuries. It also promotes strong joint health because of its focus on balance and development of different muscle groups, so impact is distributed more evenly throughout your joints.
Dance is a great compliment to a walking routine because it can be done in your living room with just some floor space and a TV or computer. Many people find dancing more fun and engaging than strength training or at-home cardio programs. Finding an exercise that you want to do, rather than that you have to do, will encourage you to exercise more and get even fitter.
Popular Types of Dance Workouts
Thanks to the ever-evolving world of technology, we can spice up our workout regiment right from our living rooms using one of the oldest forms of exercise in the book, dance! Dancing for exercise doesn’t need to include complex ballet moves, vigorous jazz step routines or cartwheels and flips around your home. There are a huge variety of basic routines and dance-based workout programs that dancers and fitness lovers of all ages and experience levels can enjoy.
Zumba is a fun, light, and incredibly popular dance workout that has become a robust favorite among fitness lovers in the past several years. Zumba promotes its workouts as being for “everybody and every body”, highlighting how the simple routines are easy to master and that they cater to every level of fitness. While Zumba started years ago as in-person group fitness class hosted at gyms and wellness centers, the program now offers hundreds of virtual classes that users can access from anywhere.
Jazzercise has been around since 1969 and is still one of the most popular dance-focused exercise forms available. Jazzercise also offers virtual classes for its followers, and even offers a Jazzercise Lite program that is geared specifically towards those just getting into the program, or just starting their fitness journeys.
Dance is a great alternative exercise because it allows you to ease into a routine at your pace and comfort level. Unlike some more intense fitness routines and programs, you can get started in your living room on a schedule that works for you, and you don’t need to spend a penny to get started. If the weather is bad, you’re stuck at home or you simply want to try an alternative to walking, a short dance program is an amazing way to get active and have fun.
With dance fitness growing in popularity, anyone looking to give it a try can do a quick search on YouTube and immediately be met with thousands of dance videos for every level. The types of dance will vary, as will the music participants dance to, so there is always something for everyone. Instructors often provide short 10-15 minute videos that are comprised of simple, easy-to-learn introductory moves to allow new dancers to follow along at their own pace.
Some dance videos will highlight a specific number of calories that the specific workout will burn, but calorie burn varies from person to person and can be difficult to generalize. You can estimate your calorie burn from dancing, and manually enter it into Pacer to add to your daily calorie total. When in doubt, it’s better to underestimate your calories burned just in case. That way any additional calories you burned is a bonus, but you won’t be surprised that your weight loss progress isn’t as effective as you expect.
Start with a short 10-15 minute workout your first few times to see how your body reacts to the new movements. Make sure to do a light warm up and a thorough stretch both before and after your workouts to decrease your injury risks and make you loosen up and improve your workout. Most fitness instructors will walk you through a stretching routine at the start of a virtual dance class, but finding the stretching regiment that works for you is crucial. No one knows your body better than you!
Challenge Yourself As You’re Comfortable
As you become more familiar with dance and inevitably fall in love with some great routines, you can easily start to challenge yourself by trying some higher intensity workouts that incorporate strength training and cardio elements. One of the most popular providers of dance fitness videos, PopSugar Fitness, identifies what specific fitness level each of their videos target from beginner, to intermediate, to advanced, and expert. However, even intermediate and advanced level videos offer modified versions of moves to ensure that everybody can participate at their own comfort level.
Using dance for fitness is a growing trend in the world of exercise that is getting strong every day. Use these tips for getting started to give dance a try and see how it fits into your routine. What’s the worst that happens? You burn some extra calories, work some new muscles, maybe learn some new music, and have a blast while doing it. Happy dancing!
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