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Groove your way to better health

Dance it out and improve your health at the same time

happy couple dancing

Salsa or swing? Ballet or ballroom? At a club or in your living room? Whatever your preference, if you enjoy dancing, you’ll like what you’re about to hear. And if you’ve never really let loose on the dance floor — or any floor — now’s your chance to give it a whirl.

Just like biking or swimming, dancing is an aerobic activity. Any aerobic activity strengthens your heart and cardiovascular system. Dancing can help you lose weight and reduce depression. It can also help lower your risk for serious health conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Plus, it can just be plain fun!

Get footloose and healthier

Dancing has even more health benefits than those already mentioned. It can:

Strengthen your bones. Dancing is weight bearing and can be high-impact, both of which help keep bones strong.

Build endurance. Dancing increases your heart rate and breathing. Over time, dancing can help build your endurance and stamina.

Burn calories. Someone who weighs about 150 pounds can burn 165 calories with 30 minutes of moderate-intensity dancing. An hour burns 330 calories.

Keep your mind sharp. Physical activity can improve your attention and memory. And, according to one study, dancing in rhythm with music and learning new steps may improve cognitive function in older adults.

Help your heart. Dancing can make your heart stronger and fitter. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week to get optimal heart-health benefits. That’s just 30 minutes, five days a week.

Improve mood and reduce stress. Dancing can lower your stress levels, boost your mood and even help you sleep better.

Provide social benefits. Dancing often involves a partner or group and may be a way to meet new people. Having social ties is linked to better health, lower stress levels and a positive outlook.

Boogie to your own beat

Sure, dancing has plenty of health and social benefits. But it also makes getting exercise easy. With dancing, you can:

Tailor it to you. Depending on your fitness level, you can get your groove on with light, moderate or vigorous intensity.

Do it in small chunks. Do you have 10 minutes to spare? Put on your shoes, turn on the music in your living room and get going.

Do it on the cheap. You don’t have to buy dance shoes or spend money on a dance class to start dancing. Just put on some headphones or turn up your speakers and move.

Have fun! Change your mindset. Instead of setting out to “exercise,” set out to have a good time and dance. The exercise is just another benefit of the fun.

Talk with your doctor before significantly increasing your activity level. Ask about the amounts and types of activities that may be best for you. Remember, moderation is best when starting an exercise regimen. Start slowly and gradually increase how often, how vigorous and how long you exercise. Moving even a little improves your health. One easy and fun way to do it is to dance.

It’s simple. With friends or alone. At a venue, in a barn or in your basement. Enjoy yourself and move your body to the music. 

By Lucy M. Casale and Michael Phillips, Contributing Writers

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Physical activity for a healthy weight. Accessed January 3, 2022.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Physical activity and your heart. Accessed January 3, 2022.
The National Institute on Aging. Go4Life. Four types of exercise can improve your health and physical activity. Accessed January 3, 2022.
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. 2018 physical activity guidelines for Americans. Accessed January 3, 2022.

Updated January 3, 2022