“Dancers are the athletes of God.” — Albert Einstein
It’s not surprising that we really dig dancing at DC. Our natural bias aside, there are some seriously surprising reasons why dance and fitness go hand in hand, and why dance might be the most efficient kind of workout for us.
It blitzes through calories like a hot knife in butter
In a 2015 study by the University of Brighton, researchers found that dancing burns more calories per hour than running, swimming, or cycling. You even end up clocking miles, with street dancing taking you as far as 3.6 kilometres in a half hour! Even dancers in contemporary and ballet classes cover 1.6km and 1.2km respectively in that time.
Part of the calorie blitz has to do with the nature of dance as well. Dancing makes a demanding workout because it involves movement in all directions. While activities like running, swimming and cycling use rhythm and momentum to keep you moving, there’s lots of stop-start and accelerating-decelerating in dance which forces our bodies to use up more energy. Kinda like how a car in city traffic burns more fuel.
Your mind gets a workout too
Like other forms of cardio exercises, dance gives you mood and mind benefits. A 2007 study found that Hip Hop improved dancers’ energy, moods and stress levels similar to the levels achieved in aerobic classes.
And perhaps because dance involves memorisation and coordination, preliminary research has shown that dance improves the connective tissues in the brains of older adults in a way that walking and stretching don’t. Those connective tissues — white matter — affect the brain’s function including processing speed and memory. Wanna improve your memory as you get older? Dance, baby, yeah!
You could even gain new superpowers
Dance, they say, enables you to find yourself and lose yourself at the same time. The psychological benefits have been well known for a long time, with some therapists prescribing dance classes as an effective therapy for those suffering from social anxiety. After all, if you can let your hair down in front of strangers as you cut a rug, suddenly public speaking doesn’t seem so bad.
Most of all, it’s tremendous fun. That’s the primary reason dance works so well as a workout. It just doesn’t feel like work when you’re having the time of your life.