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Is Dance Aerobic or Anaerobic?

author image Raginee Edwards
Raginee Edwards is a health educator, writing health-related articles, giving seminars and conducting consultations since 2006. She also taught group exercise classes and ran a fitness center. Edwards holds a bachelor's degree in biochemistry and a master's degree in health education from Baylor University.
Is Dance Aerobic or Anaerobic?
People in a dance aerobic class. Photo Credit Milan Stojanovic/iStock/Getty Images

You don't want to give up on your exercise goals, but working out can get mundane and even boring. A way to shake things up is to include physical activity that is fun and challenging. You can do this by trying various sporting activities, martial arts or dancing. Dancing can be an exciting way to meet both your aerobic and anaerobic exercise needs.

Aerobic Exercise

The word "aerobic" literally means "with oxygen." Aerobic exercise is a type of physical activity that involves continuous, rhythmic movements, sufficient enough to elevate the heart and breathing rate for a sustained period of time. This form of exercise is considered the best way to burn fat. According to the website Aerobic.org, your muscles need oxygen to have the capacity to continue this form of exercise, which enables the muscles to use fat stores as the energy source. Examples of aerobic exercise are walking, step aerobics and cycling.

Anaerobic Exercise

Anaerobic means "without oxygen." Anaerobic exercise uses more speed, power and strength than aerobic exercise. The body cannot supply the muscles with a sufficient amount oxygen, which prevents it from burning fat and reduces the amount of time the exercise can be sustained. The body uses the carbohydrates stored in the muscles as its energy source, as opposed to fat stores. Examples of anaerobic exercise include weight lifting, sprinting, pushups and situps.

Interval Training

According to the American Council on Exercise, interval training is a combination of aerobic and anaerobic exercise. You would perform short bursts of intense anaerobic activity followed by active, aerobic recovery, as opposed to resting in between sets. An example of interval training would be sprinting for up to 30 seconds then walking for five minutes and repeating that cycle throughout your workout.


Many forms of dance can be similar to interval training, making it both aerobic and anaerobic. For example, ballet incorporates movements like squatting, jumping and the holding various poses, which is anaerobic in nature. However, this form of dance also uses rhythmic, continuous, fluid movements that are characteristic of aerobic exercise. Paso Doble dancing is another example, in that it makes use of lunges and other poses that are anaerobic in nature, while including continuous movements that are sustained aerobically. The same is true for swing dancing, salsa and hip-hop dancing.

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