Going for a jog or to the gym are the typical ways people try to get in shape. Find out if activities like dancing are also good for weight loss or not.
First of all, dancing is good for weight loss in the sense that it helps the entire process.
At the same time, you will still need to pay enough attention to other lifestyle habits like your diet to see weight loss results.
That aside, you likely also want to know how effective dancing is compared to exercise alternatives.
The answer to this is that dancing can help you burn nice amounts of calories per minute. A 155-pound (70 kg) person can burn around 286 calories while dancing at a high intensity for 30 minutes.
It is true that other exercises like running at higher speeds may have even more potential in this area.
However, something that positively stands out in dancing is that many people find it a fun way to move more.
If you share this preference, you could find it easier to stay consistent with dancing workouts which is helpful for seeing weight loss results.
Can you lose weight by dancing?
Before going into the details about how effective it is, it is worth quickly mentioning that dancing can help you lose weight. At the same time, you want to keep in mind that dancing is no guarantee for results either.
If you want to lose weight, you need to make it so your body requires more energy than is coming in from food. At this point, you start using up body stores like body fat.
Workouts like dancing help in this process because the more intense movements involved use up more energy than just sitting still.
On the other hand, the things above also mean that your habits in other lifestyle areas like your diet still need to be good enough to lose weight.
Additionally, how long and how intensely you dance will influence your results a lot.
Lastly, you are likely not just interested in that dancing in your room at home or in the gym can help you lose weight.
Since you only have a limited amount of time to work out, you also want to know how effective dancing is for this purpose compared to other forms of exercise.
Calories burned dancing vs exercise alternatives
How much energy an activity like dancing uses can be measured by how many calories you burn. There are a few ways to estimate this number in advance.
Something to note first is that these are very rough estimations. Details like your body composition, hormone levels, exact intensity, etc. will influence how many calories dancing burns in your situation.
Another thing that makes it harder to put a number like this on dancing is that there are many different dancing styles. These can burn different amounts of calories.
That being said, even though the estimations below are far from perfect, they do help you understand to some extent how dancing compares to other workouts in terms of burning calories.
The amounts below are estimations for a 155-pound (70 kg) person doing the activities for 30 minutes (1).
- Fast ballroom dancing: 201 calories
- General dancing (disco, folk, Irish step dancing, line dancing): 286 calories
- Water Aerobics: 149 calories
- Stretching (Hatha Yoga): 186 calories
- Stair Step Machine (general): 223 calories
- Rowing, Stationary (moderate): 260 calories
- Bicycling, Stationary (moderate): 260 calories
- Elliptical Trainer (general): 335 calories
- Running 5.2 mph: 335 calories
The first thing that should catch your attention is that your choice of dance style will influence your weight loss results a lot.
That aside, some people will be surprised by it but dancing can help you burn nice amounts of calories.
In combination with good lifestyle habits, this can also lead to nice amounts of weight loss.
Can dancing help you lose belly fat?
Many people think they have to do certain exercises or eat certain foods to target the fat in their stomach area.
Unfortunately, it is generally not possible to focus your fat loss in specific areas in significant amounts. Not with dancing and not with other activities.
To do this, you have to lose enough weight overall. As you do this, your body will start to use more and more of the fat around your stomach.
So that does mean that dancing can help you lose belly fat at some point.
However, your efforts will not necessarily focus on this area alone.
Additionally, you will likely still need to pay at least some attention to areas of your health like your nutrition to achieve the goal above.
Which dance is the best for weight loss?
While I did not look at every single dance style there is, there are sources that put a number on how intense certain dancing styles are.
A rough general guideline is that the more intense the dancing style (and how you do it), the better this will be for weight loss.
One source of MET values claims that dances like competitive ballroom dancing, aerobic dancing, disco, folk, Irish step dancing, line dancing, etc. will be some of the best for weight loss (2).
Additionally, the source does not mention hip-hop and salsa dancing but these should be great for weight loss too.
Again, the more intense you do these dances, the more effective they will generally be. That being said, it will be easier to really pick up the pace with some dancing styles.
How long do you have to dance to lose weight?
It is also normal that you want to get an idea of how long you will have to dance to lose weight. This can motivate you to take action and help you realize whether you are doing something suboptimal.
While there are some interesting numbers below, it is important to note that they will not completely represent reality.
Your habits in lifestyle areas like your diet will influence your actual weight loss results a lot.
That being said, assume there is a 185-pound (83 kg) person who has a routine that keeps them at the same weight. The only change they make is dancing more often.
This person can burn an extra 1023 calories, about 0.29 pounds (0.13 kg) of body fat per week with 3 sessions of 30 minutes of general dancing styles.
If this person keeps up this routine for four weeks, he/she can burn about an extra 4092 calories or about 1.17 pounds (0.51 kg) of body fat.
One important thing to note is that as this person (and you) start losing more weight, the same dancing workouts will start to burn fewer calories.
Should you dance to lose weight?
Dancing at home or in gym classes can be good exercise choices if you are trying to lose weight for a few reasons.
First of all, even though dancing might not be the actual number one option in this area, this activity can still help you burn nice amounts of calories during the workout.
Secondly, one of the more unique benefits of dancing is that many people really like doing it.
What exercise you choose when trying to lose weight should likely not only depend on how many calories it burns.
By enjoying your workouts, it becomes easier to stay consistent with them. Because this is often a struggle point, dancing can be a great form of exercise if you enjoy doing it.
That aside, it can still be smart to implement resistance training exercises to build muscle too. This will help you burn more calories throughout the day. Including in your dancing sessions.
Additionally, you want to make sure you pay enough attention to lifestyle habits like your diet. It is possible to do a lot of dance challenges and still gain weight if these other areas are suboptimal.
Will dancing 30 minutes a day help me lose weight?
Dancing 30 minutes a day can help you lose weight but it will not always do so. Your habits in other lifestyle areas like nutrition still need to be good enough.
How much weight can you lose by dancing for 30 minutes?
Nutrition effects and water weight loss aside, a 185-pound (83 kg) person can burn around 341 calories during 30 minutes of somewhat intense dancing. This is more or less the number of calories in 0.1 pounds (0.04 kg) of body fat.