Many people choose dancing as a way to burn calories, strengthen muscle and meet other people. Your heart rate responds to the muscles you use and the work you are doing while dancing, although this activity is sometimes entertaining enough that it doesn't feel like a workout.
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Your heart rate is the amount of time that your heart beats each minute. The heart is a muscle with four chambers that each work together to move blood through the circulatory system, either sending blood to the lungs for oxygenation or sending it to the body to support the tissues. Each heartbeat is a contraction of the heart muscle that pushes the blood a little further along. According to the Mayo Clinic, an adult resting heart rate is approximately 60 to 100 beats per minute, but this pace increases when you exercise -- particularly with aerobic workouts such as walking, running or dancing.
When you dance, you use different muscles in your body for movement. In order to continue dancing, your muscles need oxygen, which is supplied through the bloodstream. The heart rate increases to pump more oxygenated blood to the muscles you use, as a method of keeping up with demand. Additionally, the faster heart rate pumps more blood to the lungs to gather oxygen for transport to tissues; this is why you also breathe faster when you are dancing, says the American Council on Exercise or ACE.
The increase in heart rate that occurs during exercise helps strengthen the heart and keep it conditioned because it's a muscle. Dancing on a regular basis gives the heart good practice to speed up to meet the demands of your moving muscles. When the heart is well conditioned, it works more efficiently overall and is better able to keep up with other forms of exercise or stressful situations. Additionally, keeping your heart in good condition through dancing or other exercise reduces your chances of illnesses, such as high blood pressure and heart disease, says the ACE.
You can take up dancing as a form of exercise to strengthen your cardiovascular system. Many types of dancing provide these benefits, including hip-hop, aerobic dance classes such as Zumba, and even ballroom dancing, according to JS Online. You can sign up for many different types of dance classes by contacting a fitness or community center. Various programs are also available to use at home, both through online gaming and those on DVD. If you have a history of heart disease, check with your doctor before beginning a dance program to ensure that the increase in heart rate is not too strenuous for your body.