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Dancing to Lose Weight

Adrea Gibbs
Group Dance Class

For many, the thought of exercise is in itself off-putting, but dance may be the ideal solution for your fitness needs. All it really takes to start is some fun, inspiring music to get your groove on. Different variations of dance styles and movements can burn upwards of 250 calories an hour and sometimes more.

Burning Calories Through Dance

You don't need to strive for balletic perfection or execute a windmill when breakdancing, the key is to move and have fun in the process. Organizations like the American Council on Exercise and health publications such as Prevention.com agree that it is a great way to work out for multiple benefits.

There are a couple of things you should know when it comes to any kind of calorie burning. Your weight will actually determine the number of calories you burn. For example, someone weighing 250 pounds will burn more calories during Zumba than another participant at 150 pounds. The reason is simple. It takes more energy for the heavier person to accomplish the same movements than it does for a lighter person. The other component is your food intake. "You are what you eat" is a truthful statement, so being aware of what and how often you are consuming food will also be a key factor.

Calories Burned by Dance Type

There are many kinds of dance and each can help you accomplish weight loss. Dancing, in general, can work you from head to toe and certain kinds of dance naturally focus on more specific parts of the body. Here's a simple rundown of some types of dance, how they benefit your body, and their caloric expenditure per hour. The ranges listed take into account varying weights and the associated activity levels and intensity of each form.

  • Ballet/Modern/Ballet Barre - These programs will work your upper body, core and legs, promoting good posture. Ballet Barre class is fast becoming a popular variation where traditional barre exercises (what dancers rest their hands upon often during the first portion of a class) and variations are the foundation of the program. 250-500 calories burned per hour.
  • Tap/Jazz/Musical Theatre - These programs often focus on the learning of short, long or both kinds of routines with plenty of repetition to get the steps right giving your arms, core, glutes, and legs a workout. 250-500 calories burned per hour.
  • Belly Dancing/Hula/Masala Bhangra - All based on different cultures, these styles are lower impact than some other forms of dance and are great for arms and core while still giving the legs a good workout. 250-400 calories burned per hour.
  • Zumba Class
    Hip Hop/Zumba/QiDance - High energy with big, broad movements, this will get everything working, particularly your legs, but your core and arms won't be far behind either. Hip Hop can be higher impact than the other two, but any way you go, you will burn. 400-600 calories burned per hour.
  • Ballroom/Square Dancing - While ballroom has many variations including the Latin styles which are higher energy and will burn more calories, the more moderate waltz and low impact square dancing are not only great socially, but deliver their fair share of a workout as well. 250-400 calories burned per hour.

Weight Loss Tips

Dancing is an amazing way to work out, but you need to be realistic and aim for goals that will not only help you get the weight off, but more importantly, keep it off. You may find that if you have not been doing any kind of regular exercise routine when you start dancing you may drop some significant pounds in the beginning. However, once you are managing your routine consistently, losing a pound a week will help your body naturally adjust to the weight change and help you keep it off.

Don't get discouraged if you suddenly start to plateau. Your body will often get to a place where it thinks it's comfortable and try to stay there. The best solution is to try a different form of dance and, literally, shake it off.

Dance Class

The key to any kind of confident weight loss boils down to two things:

  1. Keeping exercise regular, regardless of form
  2. Controlling your caloric intake

To lose a pound you need to burn off 3500 calories. Dancing for 9-10 hours over the period of a week means mission accomplished. Dance will also strengthen your bones and help to reduce stress, giving this form of exercise an additional plus. There are simple charts and calculators that can give you further assistance in your quest to learn more about how many calories you are burning through different kinds of dance.

Work Out Alone or With a Group

What makes dance a great choice for individuals who want to lose weight is the many kinds of dance and ways you can partake. Some people like to dance in groups, so check out your local Parks & Rec Department, neighborhood gym, or dance studios in your area for a range of offerings. Cultural centers often have or can direct you to square, Irish step, or belly dancing classes.

Woman Dancing By Herself

If you are more of a "dancing with myself," person but want some guidance, there are many great DVDs out there to get you moving. These programs are designed to take you through an entire class and the beauty is you can rewind if you need extra practice or want to repeat steps or segments. If you just want to bust a move on your own, great music will make all the difference. Whether you want to use the Top Cardio Songs of All Time, best 100 Workout Songs, or switch it up with the hottest Brazilian dance music, as long as you keep moving and set goals for yourself you'll be golden… and sweating, but that's the whole point.

Get Up And Dance

Above all, find a dance style and music that you love and keep moving. Moms with kids, seniors with friends, even dancing during your daily chores will provide long-lasting health benefits. So go ahead and dance like nobody is watching. And if they are, ask them to join in.

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Dancing to Lose Weight