Fitness Basics: Dance Your Way to Fitness (cont.)

"So many people are dissuaded from workout programs. But they can dance -- even at home. Get up during a commercial and dance around. Do 10 minutes of dancing every morning and evening."

"You don't see too many overweight square dancers or ballroom dancers," Endress tells WebMD. "You work up a sweat! I took it in college, so I can vouch for that. Swing dancing and jitterbug -- those are fun dances, a good workout, and most people learn them quickly."

Dancing is considered a moderate-intensity exercise, he says.

"You're moving your body up to an hour at a time. Anyone doing that will burn 200, 300 calories. It's endurance that's doing the calorie burn."

Swing dancing "will get your heart rate up pretty high," Endress adds. "Rock and techno dancing are low-impact aerobics. But the intensity depends on how vigorous you want to be."

If your club dancing is intense -- say, with foot-stomping plus crazy-fast arms -- you could really get a good workout.

"The goal is to exercise so that you increase your heart rate over 30 minutes to where you can just barely talk comfortably," says Sperling.

One word of advice: even if you love dancing, it's best to mix things up a bit, Sperling adds. "Combine a bunch of [activities] like dancing, walking, jogging, swimming, playing tennis," he says. "They're all very beneficial."

Originally published Mar. 06, 2005
Medically updated Feb. 16, 2006.

SOURCES: Consumer Reports, January 2005. Laurence Sperling, MD, medical director of preventive cardiology, Emory Clinic, Atlanta. Rebecca Miller, Lovejoy, Ga. Judi Sheppard Missett, founder and CEO, Jazzercise, Chicago. Gerald Endress, MS, clinical exercise physiologist and director, Duke Diet and Fitness Center, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C. Josie Gardner, exercise physiologist; spokesperson, American Council on Exercise, Massachusetts.

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