Getting down to some Beyoncé on a Friday night might sound purely like a stress-busting weekend initiation ritual, but it turns out that the health benefits of said get-down might make it about a lot more than just having a good time. Aside from blasting fat and calories at a rate of 250 an hour (!), dancing has been proven to boost confidence, ease depression and anxiety, improve memory, and prevent dementia.
Of course, it’s great cardio and improves heart health, but that’s just the beginning. For example, a study in Circulation: Heart Failure found that people with cardiac conditions who danced for 20 minutes just three times a week saw significant improvements compared to those who did more traditional cardio workouts. But dance workout regimens have benefits that run the gamut from improved motor skills and perceptual abilities – which stems from the very direct, specific motions that dance requires – to improved bone health, memory, and flexibility.
But as anyone who has put on a solo kitchen performance can attest, dancing is also just fun, which may very well be the most attractive thing about dancing for exercise, since the music and rhythm that humans are naturally attracted to can boost endorphins and actually create enthusiasm around working out. “The main benefits that make dance fitness so great and separate it from other workouts are that it’s fun, social, non-competitive and 100% accessible even for absolute beginners to both dance and fitness,” says Misty Clark, the owner of M Dance & Fitness in New York and lifelong dancer. “People actually want to come to class which means they stick with it and get results.”
Dance classes are also great for those who are new to creating a fitness regimen for themselves because most group classes are designed to help beginners learn the steps, and no real experience is necessary. There is very little you need to know about fitness to be able to reap the full benefits of dance. “Because we cater to beginners, we do more step breakdowns and cuing than is typical. But even with that, the moves will be new to you the first time around. Don’t stress! If it seems like people already know what they’re doing, it’s not because they’re better than you; they’ve just been there before,” Clark said.
Many studios offer classes in the evenings multiple times a week, so scheduling is generally very flexible. Clark recommends at least three classes a week for the best fitness and emotional results, but constructing your own routine at home has never been easier with access to resources like YouTube tutorials and instructional DVDs that make it simple to get the party started at home rather than your gym.