How to Dance to Lose Weight
Burn more calories than you take in, and you’ll eventually lose weight. But establishing a calorie deficit of about 500 calories per day — that is, burning 500 calories more than you take in every day — adds up to losing 1 pound per week.
That sets you up to lose about a pound per week but, more important, the more you love your workouts the more likely you are to keep doing them long term and thus keep the weight off, too. That makes fun, carefree — and surprisingly challenging — dance the perfect candidate for weight-loss workouts.
Types of Dance
One of the reasons that dance is so much fun — and such a perfect workout for building a lifelong fitness habit — is that anything goes. From Bollywood to dance aerobics or regal ballroom dancing, every dance style gets the large muscle groups of your body moving rhythmically for an extended period of time. Some popular dance workouts to keep an eye out for include Zumba Fitness, Bokwa and Masala Bhangra.
But don’t worry — you don’t have to be in a formal dance or dance aerobics class to boogie your way to fitness. As long as you keep moving, you can get the same benefit by cranking up your favorite tunes and rocking out to them at home.
If you weigh 185 pounds you can burn about 266 calories during an hour of slow dancing, such as the waltz or foxtrot, Harvard Health Publications notes. You torcy 488 calories in an hour of faster disco, ballroom or square dancing; and more than 530 calories per hour of fast dancing or more physically intense — if not always fast-paced — dances such as ballet.
If you’re aiming for a deficit of 500 calories per day, it takes only about an hour of fast dancing, or two hours — say, a dance social — of slower dancing to get you there, assuming you keep your calorie intake stable. Zumbathons lasting two or more hours, or becoming a dance instructor yourself, can provide an exceptional level of calorie burn.
Crank Up the Workout
To a large degree, how many calories you burn is decided by your body weight and body composition. There are, however, a number of things you can do to make your dance workout even more effective. The first is to use faster music, which will force you to move faster too; or to use bigger movements without changing the music speed.
If you don’t want to spend your entire workout dancing at turbo speed, try mixing in intervals of faster songs with slower “recovery songs” in between. You can also add arm movements to music that didn’t have much arm involvement before, or simply change from a relatively easy style of dancing — say, waltzing — to something more physically demanding, such as bhangra dancing.
Tweaking Your Lifestyle
If you really want to lose weight and keep it off, just dancing isn’t quite enough. You also need to cut out excess calories without starving your body of the nutrient-rich fuel it needs to keep you dancing. Don’t think of it so much as a diet as eating like an athlete. Focus on fruits, vegetables and whole grains paired with lean meats, and keep processed foods to a minimum.
The more you dance, the faster you’ll lose weight — but you’ve never done this type of workout before, you might need to start slow with just two short dance workouts per week, then gradually work up to as many as six dance sessions throughout the week. Do leave yourself at least one day of rest, though; the recovery time helps keep your body strong and injury-free.
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