Does Dancing Count as Cardio?

I love to dance. I don’t have any formal training, but put on some Madonna or Prince and I’m ready to compete on “So You Think You Can Dance”. I believe I wore right through the grooves on my Saturday Night Fever album. I love dancing that much.

You must feel that shift in energy when a song comes on. For me, it starts with a little head nod that turns into a bob that involves my shoulders. Then my feet start moving. It’s only a matter of time before I’m standing up and pretending I’m back on a dance floor. Maybe not back on my high school dance floor. That takes my mood to a whole different place.

Dancing is amazing on a whole bunch of levels. It is a cardio workout that you really don’t need a gym or spandex to do. It doesn’t have to be choreographed. There is something primal in us that reacts to a beat. That beat gets us moving in all kind of directions. Different from walking or running in a straight line, the directional changes up the demand on your body. More demand means greater results.

I see the biggest obstacle to getting in cardio, both for clients and myself, is boredom. The sentence almost always starts with “I have to…” How are we ever successful when it’s not really something we want to do to? It starts with creating circumstances that are appealing. There is a reason music is used in all fitness classes. It is a motivator. I know when a song is playing that grabs me I move more. I saw that happen to other people when I taught Spinning classes. Certain songs would lift up the energy level in the room. It was amazing to watch.

Let’s use this to our advantage. Grab 3 – 5 songs that move you. Depending on the length of the song that could easily be 10 to 25 minutes of music. If you dance for most of that you’ve completed a cardio workout. Be sure to allow warm-up time (3 – 5 minutes) and time to cool down (walking or slow dancing for 3 – 5 minutes will do).

For some reason many people are embarrassed to dance. I believe we all have rhythm. Our bodies know what to do, it’s our brains that get in the way. If you’re feeling self-conscious start, with dancing by yourself at home in a mirrorless room with your inner judges locked outside the door. Let yourself imagine that you’ve got the moves of that younger John Travolta. Have fun. Fitness needs to be fun.


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