Is Dancing Good for your Heart?
February is the month of hearts. It’ll be all romance and love until the 14th day of the month when we celebrate Valentine’s Day. But the hearts won’t disappear after the holiday. Flowers and candy are replaced by talk of something equally as important as love and romance; heart health. That’s when Cupid makes way for the cardiologist. The doctor’s talk may not get your heart racing like a love poem, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important.
The secret life of dance
By now most of us know that exercise is the key to keeping your heart in optimal shape. If you’re a student at a Fred Astaire Dance Studio, then you also already know that dancing is a great form of exercise. Dance enthusiasts often point to a study by the University of Brighton, which found many forms of dance, burn more calories than cycling. Dr. Nick Smeeton, a co-author of that study, points to the “movement in all directions” factor in dance. Smeeton compares the dancing body to a car. If running is like driving on a freeway, dancing is more like motoring through a busy city street. All the starting, stopping and changing directions burns a lot of fuel even if you don’t cover a lot of ground, he explains.
The hidden roots of exercise
So dancers and researchers aren’t the only ones taking notice of the fitness benefits of dancing. Take a quick look at classes offered at gyms across the country and you’ll find many classes rooted in dance. Some have been around for a while; others are starting to make their way off the dance floor and into the gym. Probably one of the most popular is Zumba. The original name was Rumbacize, so that gives you a hint about Zumba’s origins. It incorporates samba, salsa, merengue, mambo and many other moves with high-energy music to get people moving and hearts pumping.
“Dancing workouts will burn as many as, or more calories than, conventional workouts, with a number of additional benefits, physical and otherwise,” says Elizabeth Larkam, M.A., spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise. She told Shape magazine that dancing also improves your balance because “you’re required to move in all directions through space: backwards, forwards, sideways, turning.”
Dance your way to fitness
So just how heart healthy are the different types of dance offered at Fred Astaire Dance Studios? A lot of that depends on the dancer and the effort put forth, but this information in Shape magazine based on the ACE Activity Counter can give you some idea. The numbers are based on an hour-long dance workout for a 125-lb woman.
- Waltz and Foxtrot – 329 Calories: Holding on to your partner can help you tone your arms while dancing in high heels will strengthen calves.
- Tango and Paso Doble – 389 Calories: Consider both of these styles aerobic dances. They will help you dance your way to sleeker arms, trunk, and thighs.
- Salsa – 509 Calories: This is the biggie when it comes to fitness. The lower body workout will have your heart pumping and your hips, waist, and legs in action!
So, fitness instructors are learning what Fred Astaire knew all along; dancing is great fitness as well as fun. It’s action that engages your body and your mind in a social setting that’ll have you engaging and laughing while you improve your overall health. Want to see what dance can do for your heart? Your first lesson is on us! Find a Fred Astaire Dance Studio location near you to get your feet moving and your heart racing.