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Is Dancing Good For Weight Loss?

When trying to lose weight by exercising you have a lot of workout options. You might be interested in dancing, is it good for weight loss?

The human body uses energy in the form of calories day in, day out. By increasing the amount and intensity of movement you raise the amount of energy you use.

If you use more energy than you absorb from food, your body turns to body fat to supply that extra energy. This is known as a calorie deficit.

Dancing can certainly help you burn extra calories, which can lead to body fat burning. But just how good is dancing for weight loss?

Cardio versus HIIT versus Weight Lifting

All forms of exercise can be divided into 3 main categories. These 3 categories are cardio, high intensity interval training (HIIT) and weight lifting. In terms of what parts of your body they impact you can bucket cardio and HIIT together.

Each workout will inevitably use both your cardiovascular system and muscles. However, usually one of the two really stands out.

The way cardio and HIIT help you lose weight is slightly different from how more muscle helps you lose weight. One or the other can be better depending on the situation.

Dancing is a cardio and/or HIIT workout.

Cardio versus HIIT versus Weight Lifting

Weight lifting

Weight lifting helps you burn more calories by increasing muscle mass. How much you weigh is an important factor of how many calories you burn each day. That’s how many weight loss plateaus happen, you lose some weight and you start burning less calories with the same habits.

Building more muscle helps you add healthy weight. A certain amount of muscle also burns slightly more calories than the same amount of fat.

This means that by spending a little time building muscle you can increase the amount of calories you burn 24/7.

Cardio and HIIT

Cardio and HIIT help you burn more calories by increasing the intensity and quantity of movement right now.

This makes those kinds of exercise great for short term energy usage. The flip side of the coin is that once you stop doing these kinds of exercise the extra calorie burning will stop fast.

HIIT is basically cardio but faster. So depending on what kind of dancing you are doing one or the other. The higher the intensity of the exercise you are doing, the more calories you burn.

HIIT can also cause something called “afterburn”. This is basically having an increased metabolism for a while after you stop the exercise.

Do this for long term weight loss

So cardio and HIIT are good for fat loss in the next hour or so.

For long term weight loss weight lifting can be a lot more time and effort efficient.

You can also do both. The extra muscle will help you get more out of your cardio workout.


Often people forget that your choice of exercise isn’t only about how efficient the calorie burning is.

If you really don’t like doing weight lifting, chances are you won’t stick to it.

This is one of the benefits dancing can have over other exercises. Some people really like dancing, maybe together with a big group of people. For them it feels more like a fun hobby instead of exercising.

This can help a lot with sticking with it. Feeling this way about working out can make cardio, and dancing in particular, a better choice for weight loss.

people dancing for fun

Is dancing good cardio for weight loss?

If you’re more a fan of cardio exercise you still have a lot of different options. One of them is dancing.

Keep in mind that the amount of calories burned by exercising depends from person to person. Things like age, weight, activity levels,… influence it.

The following numbers are an estimation for a 155-pound person doing the exercises for 30 minutes (1).

  • Dancing (disco, ballroom, square): 205 calories
  • Dancing (Fast, ballet, twist): 223 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 thing with these numbers is also that the more intense and the longer you do your exercise, the more calories you will burn. These measurements are great to get an estimation but you can’t rely on them being the exact same for you.

A more intense dancing style might increase these numbers. Overall, the dancing styles of which there are measurements available are not the greatest cardio workouts.

You can check out the specific article on how many calories dancing burns for different time intervals, dancing styles, and bodyweights.

Is dancing good cardio for weight loss

How long do you have to dance to lose weight?

One pound of body fat is about 3500 calories (one kg +-8000). How much dancing is enough for weight loss will also depend on the amount of calories in your diet.

One person might eat more than the other. This might make it so they need to exercise longer or more intense to see the same weight loss results. You can even lose weight without exercising so there are many factors that influence it.

30 minutes of fast, ballet and/or twist dancing every day at a moderate intensity could help you burn an extra 2230 calories in 10 days which is about 0.6 pounds of body fat. 30 days 6690 calories and so on…

Keep in mind that losing weight too fast can be harmful. In general a 500 calorie deficit per day is considered to be a healthy weight loss rate.

Can dancing reduce belly fat?

Losing belly fat is mostly not about what specific exercise you do but about the total amount of calories it helps you burn in the long term.

Since dancing helps you burn an extra amount of calories it can help you lose belly fat and weight. In general, the more intense and the longer you dance, the more calories you burn.

Which dances are the best for weight loss?

It’s hard to find a source that provides a reliable comparison in terms of calories burned per dance style.

However, some of the more active dances are hip hop, salsa dancing and ballet.

You can burn some extra calories with any dance style but these should be a bit more helpful than others.

Why dancing might be perfect for you

Dancing is not a very good weight loss workout in terms of extra calorie burning per minute.

That being said, dancing can be something you really enjoy doing a lot more than other exercises. In that case dancing can be the right weight loss workout for you.

For losing weight you can’t underestimate the power of making it more likely that you’ll stick to your exercise plan.