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You can dance your way to a slim, toned body.
If you love twisting your way through a high-energy dance routine, dance could be a form of exercise that doesn't feel like work. Like any other form of cardiovascular exercise, dance can help whittle your waist and build your stomach muscles, though you'll lose weight from your entire body and not solely from your midsection. The amount of weight you lose and the time it takes, however, depends upon the type of dance you do and the frequency in which you do it.
Weight-Loss: The Basics
Although you can burn a few calories with weight-training exercises such as crunches and bicep curls, the best way to lose weight is through cardiovascular exercise, which burns many more calories. Dance is a type of cardio, which will burn fat throughout your entire body rather than just along your abs and waist. There's no single "best" type of dance to do for weight loss. Instead, you'll need to choose something you can stick with that's sufficiently intense to burn calories. If you want to tone your muscles while you dance, try incorporating small hand weights into an aerobic dance routine. For example, you might hold dumbbells while belly dancing. Dance routines that require leaps, jumps or lifting your partner -- such as advanced swing dancing or ballet -- can also help strengthen your muscles.
You'll burn more calories with dances that elevate your breathing and cause you to break a sweat than you will gently swaying back and forth with a partner. If you want to maximize your intensity, try dancing to fast songs and keeping your body moving for the entirety of the dance. According to Harvard Health Publications, a 125-pound person will burn about 180 calories in 30 minutes of fast dancing, but only 90 calories with a slow dance such as the foxtrot.
Dancing and Interval Training
Interval training is an easy way to increase the intensity of your routine and burn more calories by alternating between high and moderate-intensity exercise. You might try a slow waltz for a two to three-minute song, then switch to a rousing swing dance, returning to the slower waltz with the next song. MayoClinic.com reports that this variation in exercise intensity can help you burn more calories and boost your aerobic fitness.
Even if you have a rousing dance session that leaves you exhausted, you won't lose weight if you don't regularly and consistently dance. MayoClinic.com recommends as many as 300 minutes of cardio per week to lose weight. Your needs vary depending upon your starting weight, the intensity of your dance routine and how much weight you want to lose. One pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories, so you'll need to burn 3,500 calories for every pound you want to lose. To up the frequency with which you dance, try enrolling in a weekly dance class, then practicing your moves throughout the week -- even dancing while you clean or do other mundane tasks.
Watch Your Diet
To see the best results, you'll need to eat fewer calories than you burn. Depending upon your normal caloric intake and your daily caloric needs, this might mean you need to eat less each day. Try eating nuts and berries as snacks rather than potato chips and cookies. Drink water instead of soda, and try gradually eliminating "bad" foods rather than trying to cut out everything at once.