Hate to work out but love to dance? Incorporating high-impact moves into your favorite dances can turn them into a challenging and effective workout -- especially if you crank up the tempo and really get after it. High-impact aerobic dancing blasts calories while improving coordination and flexibility and lowering your health risks. And with no special equipment required -- except music -- high-impact aerobic dancing can easily fit into your busy day.
The key to turning any dance workout into a high-energy calorie-blasting session is to make it high-impact. That means incorporating moves that take both feet off the floor, such as hopping, jumping or leaping. This elevates your heart rate and sends your body into fat-burning mode. According to "Fitness" magazine's online calculator, a 130-pound woman can burn up to 209 calories in just 30 minutes of high-impact aerobic activity compared to only 149 for low-impact exercise of the same duration. But unlike being chained to a cardio machine or following choreographed moves in a class, you're setting those hops and jumps to your favorite music and are totally free to move as the music leads you.
Schedule your dance sessions as often as you would any other cardiovascular workout. To start, aim for 20 to 30 minutes of continuous motion three to five times per week, devoting at least five to 10 minutes during each session to high-impact moves. The Mayo Clinic recommends a minimum 150 minutes of moderate activity per week for adults, but you can cut that to 75 minutes for high-intensity cardiovascular exercise. So make that your goal if you are a beginner or just want good health and to maintain your weight. If you are looking to drop pounds, you'll probably need to double that time. As your cardiovascular condition improves, increase the amount of high-impact moves you perform during each dance session or, if you've got the time, add on extra songs to your workout.
The best song choices are the ones you like the best and that are likely to get you moving. However, if you're looking for ones that facilitate the best high-impact aerobic workouts, choose songs with strong beats and faster tempos. Hip-hop, pop and techno are easy choices, but if you're willing to do some searching, you can find music of just about any genre that provides the beat you need.
Benefits and Results
What can you expect from high-impact aerobic dancing? Plenty! Not only will you improve your cardiorespiratory health and shed pounds, like any regular cardio workout, dancing can improve your coordination, flexibility and strength and lift your mood while lowering the risk for a number of diseases including heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and depression.
As a weight-bearing activity, dancing will strengthen your lower body, particularly quads, hamstrings and calf muscles, and with some moves, your glutes. Because you also need strength and stability exercises to maintain total health, the Mayo Clinic recommends performing strength exercises at least two times per week. Add some strength-training moves to your high-impact dance workout by including squatting motions, calf raises and even a few wall push-ups while moving to the beat.
After graduating from the University of Kansas with a bachelor's degree in sports information, Jill Lee served for 10 years as a magazine editor for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). Also a published author, Lee now works as a professional writer and editor focusing on fitness, sports and careers.