How does dance affect the body
Dance - health benefits - Better Health Channel
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SummaryRead the full fact sheet
- Dancing can be a way to stay fit for people of all ages, shapes and sizes.
- Dancing can improve your muscle tone, strength, endurance and fitness.
- Dancing is a great way to meet new friends.
- See your doctor for a check-up if you have a medical condition, are overweight, are over 40 years of age or are unfit.
There are many forms of dance, from ballroom to barn dancing and disco to Morris dancing.
Dance has always been a part of human culture, rituals and celebrations. Today, most dancing is about recreation and self-expression, although it can also be done as a competitive activity.
Dancing is an enjoyable way to be more physically active and stay fit.
Health benefits of dancing
Dancing can be a way to stay fit for people of all ages, shapes and sizes. It has a wide range of physical and mental benefits including:
- improved condition of your heart and lungs
- increased muscular strength, endurance and motor fitness
- increased aerobic fitness
- improved muscle tone and strength
- weight management
- stronger bones and reduced risk of osteoporosis
- better coordination, agility and flexibility
- improved balance and spatial awareness
- increased physical confidence
- improved mental functioning
- improved general and psychological wellbeing
- greater self-confidence and self-esteem
- better social skills.
Getting started with dancing
You can dance in a group, with a partner, or on your own.
There are lots of different places where you can enjoy dancing, for example, at dance schools, social venues, community halls and in your own home. Dancing has become such a popular way to be active and keep fit, that most fitness clubs now offer dance classes in their group exercise programs.
Dancing can be done both competitively and socially. It can be a great recreational and sporting choice, because anyone of any age can take part. It doesn’t matter whether it is cold or raining, as dancing is usually done indoors.
The gear you need for dancing will depend on the style of dancing you choose. For example, tap dancing will involve buying tap shoes, however many forms of dance do not need special equipment or footwear.
To get started, simply choose a style you enjoy, or would like to try, look online for dance schools in your local area and join a class.
Types of dance
There are many styles of dance to choose from, each with its own attractions. Popular styles of dancing include:
- Ballet – mostly performed to classical music, this dance style focuses on strength, technique and flexibility.
- Ballroom dancing – this involves a number of partner-dancing styles such as the waltz, swing, foxtrot, rumba and tango.
- Belly dancing – originating in the Middle East, this dance style is a fun way to exercise.
- Hip-hop – performed mostly to hip-hop music, this urban dance style can involve breaking, popping, locking and freestyling.
- Jazz – a high-energy dance style involving kicks, leaps and turns to the beat of the music.
- Pole dancing – has become increasingly popular as a form of exercise. It involves dancing with a vertical pole, and requires muscle endurance, coordination, and upper- and lower-body strength.
- Salsa – involving a mixture of Caribbean, Latin American and African influences, salsa is usually a partner dance and emphasises rhythms and sensuality.
- Square-dancing – a type of folk dancing where 4 couples dance in a square pattern, moving around each other and changing partners.
- Tap dancing – focuses on timing and beats. The name originates from the tapping sounds made when the small metal plates on the dancer’s shoes touch the ground.
Choosing a dance style
When choosing a dance style, ask yourself questions such as:
- Do I want to dance to improve my fitness?
- Am I trying to improve my flexibility and coordination?
- Do I prefer fast dancing or slow dancing?
- Do I want to dance with a partner, or on my own?
- Do I want to join a group, or have private lessons?
- Will I enjoy competitions, or do I want to dance just for fun?
General tips for dancing
If you are thinking of taking up dancing, suggestions include:
- See your doctor for a check-up if you have a medical condition, are overweight, are over 40 years of age or are unfit.
- Wear layers of clothing that you can take off as your body warms up.
- Do warm-up activities before you begin a dance session.
- Drink plenty of water before, during and after dancing.
- Make sure you rest between dance sessions.
- Don’t push yourself too far or too fast, especially if you are a beginner.
- Wear professionally fitted shoes appropriate to your style of dance.
- Check with your dance instructor that you are holding the correct form.
- Sit and watch new dance moves first. Learning new moves increases your risk of injury, especially if you are already tired.
- Perform regular leg-strengthening exercises.
- Move as fluidly and gracefully as you can.
- Cool down after a dance session, including stretching.
Where to get help
- Your GP (doctor)
- Victorian Square Dancing Association Tel. 1800 643 277
- DanceSport Victoria – ballroom and competitive dancing
- Victorian Line Dance Association
- Get Active Victoria
- Sports Medicine Australia Tel. 1300 711 211
- Fong Yan A, Cobley S, Chan CL et al. 2018, ‘The effectiveness of dance interventions on physical health outcomes compared to other forms of physical activity: A systematic review and meta-analysis’, Sports Medicine, no. 48, pp, 933–951.
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Reviewed on: 25-05-2022
9 Ways Dancing Is Good for Your Health
Dancing can be many things: An expression of art, a fun hobby, a representation of culture, and a great form of exercise.
“Dancing is the ultimate workout,” says Julie Granger, a Paris-based International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) personal trainer and founder and creator of The Studio Paris and Ballerina Body Training. Not only does dancing involve engaging all of your muscles and limbs, it also gets your heart pumping. Plus, dancing can be a whole lot of fun.
A workout you can look forward to? Sign us up.
The style of dance you do will influence how intense of a workout it is, but pretty much any style of dance can be a workout. Granger, who is also a former professional ballerina, says choose a type of dance according to your favorite tunes. You can sign up for a class at your local gym or studio, take one virtually, or hit the town. “No matter which you choose, and even if it is just dancing at the club on Saturday night, you will get benefits,” she says.
So, what are the specific health benefits of busting a move? Some are the health benefits that come with any type of exercise; others are unique to dance.
Here are some research-backed ways dancing can improve your health.
1. Dance Boosts Cardiovascular Health
Like other aerobic exercise, dancing is great for improving cardiovascular function. A study published in 2016 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that people who engaged in moderate-intensity dancing (defined in the study as enough to make you out of breath or sweaty) were 46 percent less likely to develop heart disease or die from it than nondancers over 10 years of follow-up, according to population-based survey data of adults ages 40 and up. In comparison, moderate-intensity walkers were just 25 percent less likely to suffer heart health issues.
The study also notes the social aspect of dancing, and the relaxation that comes with it (more on this below), could be partly responsible for its health benefits.
2. Dancing Builds Core Strength
Dance requires balance and helps build core strength, which helps promote good posture and prevent muscle injuries and back pain, according to Mayo Clinic.
Granger adds that this is particularly true for ballet. “In ballet, you train your body to stand still, often on one leg. This helps you train the deep muscles in your body, which you would not work otherwise,” she says. You are also engaging your abs, “which are an essential part to balancing,” she notes.
3. Dance Promotes Flexibility
In addition to building strength, many forms of dance stretch the limbs of the body, which improves flexibility, says Elizabeth C Gardner, MD, an orthopedic sports medicine surgeon at Yale Medicine and associate professor at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut. “Both of these (improved strength and flexibility) contribute to improved balance, which can help to avoid falls and reduce the risk of injury in other aspects of life,” she explains.
This is especially true for ballet dancers. “Ballet training involves a great deal of flexibility training. Flexibility means improved mobility, which means that any type of daily activity will be more enjoyable, whether you take yoga or you are trying to reach for the top cabinet in your kitchen,” says Granger.
4. Dance Can Help With Weight Loss
Dancing is also a form of both aerobic and anaerobic exercise, which is a great calorie burner, Dr. Gardner says. “Jumping and twirling movements are great aerobic training, while holding positions of squatting and balance positions can turn on the anaerobic energy system,” she explains.
In general, the more up-tempo the dance style, the more calories and energy will be burned.
Depending on the style of dance and your bodyweight, 30 minutes of dancing can burn between 90 and 252 calories, according to Harvard Medical School. This type of high-intensity calorie burning can help support weight loss if you’re trying to shed pounds. If you want to maximize calorie burn, Granger suggests taking a dance cardio class, designed to blast calories and improve physical fitness.
5. Dancing Is Good for Bone Health
“As a form of weight-bearing activity, unlike a stationary bike or swimming, dancing can help to maintain bone density,” says Gardner. Per the National Osteoporosis Foundation, high-impact and weight-bearing exercises, including some forms of dance, help you effectively maintain and even build new bone mass.
Some research suggests for older adults with osteoporosis, dancing can help reverse some of the damage of that chronic condition. Other research in children suggests that those who took ballet had better bone mineral content after a three-year period compared with children who didn’t do ballet.
6. Dancing May Help Prevent Memory Loss
Dance often requires learning moves and routines (choreography).
“There’s actually some very good evidence that social dancing can reduce the risk of cognitive decline as we get older,” says Carolyn Fredericks, MD, a neurologist at Yale Medicine, citing a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine involving 469 people over the age of 75. Out of all the physical activities, including walking, bicycling, stair climbing, swimming, and group exercise classes, dancing was the only activity associated with a lower risk of dementia.
“We always recommend that older adults seek out cardiovascular exercise and social engagement, and cognitive challenge — social dancing gets all three of these,” Dr. Fredericks says.
7. Dance Is Good for Mental Health
Research shows that dance can help decrease anxiety, increase self-esteem, and improve psychological well-being.
And certain types of dance have even been used as treatment for depression. Research published in 2019 in Frontiers in Psychology found that dance movement therapy (DMT) — defined by the American Dance Therapy Association as the psychotherapeutic use of movement to promote emotional, social, cognitive, and physical integration of the individual, for the purpose of improving health and well-being — was effective in treating depression.
8. Dance Can Help Bust Stress
If you’ve had a tough day, have you ever cranked up your favorite tunes and busted a move to blow off some steam? Any type of movement can help bust stress, according to Mayo Clinic. But dance may be particularly good for doing this.
Research published in The International Journal on the Biology of Stress, for example, found that DMT also impacted the cortisol awakening response, a marker of chronic stress, while high intensity aerobic activity did not.
9. Dance Can Help Us Feel More Socially Connected
Social connectedness and interaction is a really important part of mental and physical health. Much research shows that feeling lonely or socially isolated can have myriad negative health effects.
“Dancing is sharing, and when you take class surrounded by other people, you know you all have something in common. You are not here to compete, you are here to enjoy, and there is an amazing feeling that comes with that,” Granger says. “Go take a class, and feel the energy of the room.”
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How dancing changes the body - Live!
My friend, 35-year-old Vadim, teaches hustle at a Moscow dance school. Looking at his toned figure and polished movements, you will never suspect that two years ago he weighed 30 kg more and was clumsy like a bear. One fine day, realizing that he already weighs more than a centner, Vadim signed up for dancing. The result is an excellent press (exercises for a flat stomach), a clear pattern of biceps, toned buttocks and strong embossed legs in a year. Vadim is convinced that dancing changes the body faster than fitness. Impressed by this story, I decided to find out what kind of bonuses for the figure and health to expect from serious classes in different styles of dance.
Bonus: thin and flexible waist, beautiful hips, strong legs.
Oriental dances increase muscle tone, tighten the whole body. “Sometimes a woman’s weight remains the same, and those around her unanimously say that she has lost weight,” says the LIVE! belly dancer Svetlana Abu-Hardan. Due to the constant retractions and ejections of the abdomen, the abdominal muscles are strengthened - straight, oblique, transverse. Intensive rotation of the hips removes extra centimeters from the waist, improves blood circulation in the pelvic organs, which is very important for the health of the reproductive system. Arm swings strengthen the muscles of the shoulder and triceps, which means that it will be possible to safely wear T-shirts with straps.
Bonuses: flexibility, strong back, arms and legs, flexible neck, stamina.
Do not look at the fact that everyone who dances hip-hop, house, break-dance and RnB walks bent over. In fact, they have very strong back muscles and excellent flexibility. Club dances require remarkable strength and endurance - for example, in the lower break, the dancer performs truly acrobatic stunts. “Practitioners of this type of dance can forget about dumbbells, exercise equipment, jogging in the morning - the figure will be perfect anyway,” says break dance instructor Irakli Minadze.
Bonuses: excellent posture, healthy back, mobile hands, beautiful legs.
Flamenco classes teach you how to beat a fraction, keep your back straight and arch your hands. After a couple of months of training, the hips and buttocks lose weight, and the calf muscles acquire a beautiful relief. That is why flamenco is ideal for those who have full thighs combined with thin calves - classes will help improve the proportions of the legs. Turns and twists work out the muscles of the back, so flamenco dancers with their excellent posture can be seen from a mile away. “I had a ten-year-old girl with scoliosis in my group,” says flamenco teacher Anastasia Morozova. - Mom specially brought her to classes to strengthen her back. A year later, the scoliosis was gone.
Bonuses: toned buttocks, thin waist, strong abs.
In latin and salsa, from the constant "eights" legs, hips, buttocks lose weight, the press is tightened. The lifeline quickly disappears from the waist. Latin American dances in general intensively burn fat and speed up metabolism. “One week of active Latin dance classes replaces a two-month gym membership,” says Anastasia Nefedova, Latin American dance instructor. Still - so dance!
Bonuses: high chest, toned stomach, strong arms and legs.
This is where you can mold a figure in the shortest possible time. “You won’t recognize yourself after three months of classes,” says Dmitry Tsibulsky, Strip Dance teacher. - Muscles are stretched, fat quickly disappears. In addition, many unconsciously begin to eat less, because often you have to hold the weight of your body on your hands, so you want to become lighter faster. Striptease dancers don't eat much." By strengthening the muscles of the shoulder girdle, including the chest, the chest rises. To stay on the pole, and even more so to raise the legs in this position, is impossible without intensive work of the press, buttocks and hips. Hands that have to support the weight of the whole body quickly acquire a beautiful relief, even fingers are strengthened. In general, this is really a very fast, although not an easy way to mold a beautiful harmonious body.
Bonuses: strong buttocks, toned thighs, strong legs, sculpted calves.
“After a month of classes, I lost 7 kg,” says Irish dance teacher Varvara Emelyanova. - The greatest load falls on the lower part of the legs - the calf muscles, feet, but the hips are also actively strengthened. The upper body does not move: the head does not spin, the shoulders are even, the arms are at the seams. My legs very soon became similar to the legs of ancient Greek athletes. One session replaces an intense workout on a stationary bike. Despite the fact that the body almost does not work in the dance, after a couple of months of classes, posture improves and the press strengthens.
Bonuses: beautiful harmonious body.
Body-made is a new trend in dance schools that is gaining popularity. In fact, this is a dance fitness workout with strength and aerobic elements. All major areas are trained: chest, waist, arms, back, buttocks, hips and legs. “Without particularly straining, you achieve the perfect figure,” says Tatyana Ermizova, a body-maid instructor. - Remove the “knuckle” around the waist, strengthen the press, drive off excess fat from the hips and buttocks. The results are visible within a month."
Personally, I like Argentine tango. After six months of training, my back straightened, and my calves and forearms acquired a beautiful relief. These classes pushed morning running out of my schedule: my legs hurt after tango as if I had already run my kilometers. In addition, dancing in the evening with a partner is much more pleasant than running alone early in the morning.
How has dancing changed you?
Video classes "Belly dance" with Svetlana Abu-Hardan and a master class "Belly dance" by Alexei Ryaboshapka in the fitness video library of the club "LIVE!".
Video lessons "Club dances", "Modern dances", "Hip-hop" with Svetlana Litvinova, "Hip-hop" with Ilya Vyaltsev, "Hip-hop show".
Video classes "Dance Aerobics" with Maria Yerlashova and Taras Klimov, "Dance Aerobics" with Natalia Kolesnikova and Taras Klimov.
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Health benefits of dancing | RBC Style
Shot from the movie Pulp Fiction
Author Natalya Germanovich
August 08, 2021
We will tell you why dancing is sometimes more useful than regular fitness, and what effect dance exercises have on the body and psyche
We are all looking for ways to feel healthier, more energetic and happier. According to research by Japanese scientists, dancing is the most effective exercise that helps maintain not only physical but also psychological health. For eight years, experts have observed 1,000 women who practiced yoga, walking, rhythmic gymnastics and other sports. It turned out that 73% of those who practiced dancing specifically had the highest health scores compared to other participants in the study who chose other sports. [1
The main advantage of dancing is that people of any age and any build can do it. Tap or twerk - you can choose any dance rhythm. “Bonuses” from these classes can be felt already in the first week of classes.
How to choose a dance?
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In addition to aesthetic and musical criteria, physical activity should also be taken into account in dancing. On average, a person is able to burn 250-400 kcal per hour of training. But it depends on the intensity of the movements and the style of the dance. Step is one thing, in which the lower body is more actively involved, and acrobatic types, where all muscle groups work, are quite another.
How many calories are spent on dancing:
- pole dance — 800 kcal/hour 
- jazz-modern/jazz-funk — up to 600 kcal/hour — 
- breakdance — 650 kcal/hour 
- twerk — 480 kcal/hour 
Such intense exercise is suitable for healthy people who may have had or already have experience in sports.
Beginners who still want to move actively are more suitable:
- classical ballet — 429kcal/hour 
- tap dance — 394 kcal/hour 
- latin dances — 343 kcal/hour 
Do not write off the classics. Waltz and foxtrot on average will help to spend 283 kcal / hour. This is an ideal load for people who have limitations associated with the state of the body.
In any case, both fast and slow movements lower the heart rate, burn calories and help improve the functioning of the body. 
A frame from the film "Dirty Dancing"
What else is dancing good for?
The overall tone of the body increases
When we dance, we use a large part of the body, so this hobby can easily replace routine cardio workouts. Since a sedentary lifestyle reduces the health of the cardiovascular system (according to WHO, a person should move at least 150-300 minutes a week, but more is better ), dancing helps reduce the risk of getting hypertension, as well as problems with the heart and blood vessels. 
More strength appears
Constant fatigue and drowsiness have a negative impact on the quality of life. According to a 2017 study, weekly dance classes make adults more energetic. And if you increase the load to 150 minutes a week, this will reduce the risk of insomnia. Physical fatigue contributes to rapid sleep. 
The brain begins to work better
Dancing stimulates several parts of the brain at once, because it makes you focus on the constant movement of the body in space and on memorizing dance patterns. First, this is how we develop coordination. Secondly, long-term memory and cognitive abilities are improved. Studies have confirmed that dancing helps the growth of "white matter", which helps the brain perform these functions smoothly. 
Thirdly, it reduces the risk of dementia and Parkinson's disease in old age. Dancing also helps develop new neural connections that are responsible for orientation in space and the executive functions of the brain: concentration, planning, cognitive inhibition, and any other decision-making activities. 
Mental and emotional well-being improves
Through dancing, the body produces “happy hormones” – serotonin and oxytocin. The first is formed due to physical activity, and the second is when we begin to feel that we are getting dance moves.
All these chemical processes, as well as music, rhythm, monotonous repetitions of movements, help to get rid of obsessive unpleasant thoughts, which often lead a person into a state of anxiety and increase the risk of depression. University of Hertfordshire psychology professor Peter Lovatt, in his book Dance psychology: the science of dance and dancers, claims that a person receives a charge of good mood while dancing, enough for a week. 
A still from the movie "Chicago"
Increases self-esteem and leaves the feeling of loneliness
Dancing is social entertainment. Starting classes, you get to know a large number of like-minded people. Regular training not only improves the physical and psychological state, but also helps a person to express himself, remove psychological blocks, and liberate himself. Sometimes, some people are the only way to throw out their emotions.