Can Dancing for 30 Minutes a Day Help You Lose Weight?

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Depending on your preferences, you can work out in the gym or dance for weight loss. Sometimes you just need an engaging form of exercise to keep you coming back and shedding off the pounds. Dance gets your heart pumping faster, and you can burn massive calories in as little as half an hour.

Dancing is a great way to burn calories.
Image Credit: Luis Alvarez/DigitalVision/GettyImages

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Dancing for 30 minutes a day can help you meet your weekly exercise requirements and burn calories. Coupled with a reduced energy intake, it may help you lose weight.

Burning Calories to Lose Weight

Weight loss is difficult but straightforward. You need to burn more calories than you take in. The name of the game is energy balance, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

When you burn more calories than you take in you're in a state of negative energy balance. This should be your goal if you're trying to lose weight.

The number of calories burned while dancing depends on several factors, according to the MD Anderson Cancer Center. The primary consideration is the intensity of the exercise. Different types of dance have different intensities. If you do a slow waltz with a dance partner, you'll burn fewer calories than you would following a hip-hop dance exercise video.

Read more: 4 Fit-tastic Benefits of Step Aerobics

The second factor they mention is body weight. If two people do the same activity at the same intensity, the heavier person will burn more calories. When you're larger, you simply have more mass to move and your muscles have to work harder.

The last factor is your body composition. Muscles use more energy than fat, so people with more lean mass will burn more calories.

Dance for Weight Loss

A table from Harvard Health Publishing shows the difference in calories burned between different types of dance and body weight. A 125-pound person will burn roughly 90 calories in 30 minutes of slow dancing, 165 calories in disco or ballroom and 180 calories in fast or ballet dancing.

A 155-pound person will burn 112 calories in 30 minutes of slow dancing, 205 calories from disco or ballroom and 223 calories from fast or ballet dancing. A 185-pound person will burn roughly 133 calories in 30 minutes of slow dancing, 244 calories from disco or ballroom dancing and 266 from fast or ballet dancing.

As you can see, the number of calories burned depends on both the intensity of your dancing style and your body weight. Before you commit to using dance as a form of exercise to lose weight, seek out different options. Find a dance style that you enjoy, but also one that is safe and appropriate for your fitness level.

Aerobic dance classes are popular because you can join a group of people, have fun, listen to music and burn calories. Zumba, for example, is a popular aerobic dance class. You might be able to find it at your local gym, or you can use online videos to practice.

A June 2016 study published in Homosporticus, which used a small sample size, found that Zumba classes helped 45 women, ages 25 to 35, get in shape. The subjects enrolled in 24 sessions spread over eight weeks. By the end of the study, they experienced a reduction in body fat mass and total weight. These findings indicate that Zumba may help you get leaner.

Exercise and Weight Loss

The number of calories you burn per session is important, but you also have to look at things on a larger scale. Doing one dance session per week probably won't make a big difference. If you want to lose weight, start by following the guidelines published by the American Heart Association (AHA).

The AHA recommends getting at least 150 minutes of exercise per week. That translates to two and a half hours. If you do 30 minutes of dance per day, five days per week, you're hitting the appropriate numbers.

Read more: The Best Beginner Dance Exercise Videos

In addition to weight loss, there are other health benefits you can get from regular exercise, including the following:

  • Lower risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
  • Better sleep.
  • Improved brain function and memory.
  • Stronger bones.
  • Improved mental wellbeing.

You can try hip-hop dance for weight loss, but it may or may not work. As discussed earlier, there are two sides when it comes to the energy balance equation: calories in and calories out.

Dance increases the number of calories you burn, but it won't offset the effects of bad eating. A September 2019 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that exercise alone might not be as helpful as you think, at least when it comes to weight loss.

Proper Nutrition for Weight Loss

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study explains that exercise will help you maintain weight loss you've already achieved, but it might not be the best way to lose weight in the first place. Cutting the number of calories you consume by adjusting your diet will yield better results than physical activity alone.

Researchers actually mention a study that showed subjects eating more once they started to exercise. Although they were burning more calories, they were also consuming more. As a result, the weight they lost one year after starting an exercise program was zero.

The USDA has some diet tips for those looking to lose weight. They explain that a short-term diet is not the best solution. Rather, make changes to your diet that you can stick to over the long-term.

Researchers describe the strategies used by what they call "successful losers." These are people who went on a diet and then kept the weight off over the long term. In addition to staying active, you should eat regular meals, including breakfast. Successful dieters reduced both their calorie intake and the amount of fat consumed.

Read more: 13 Sneaky Weight-Loss Hacks You Probably Haven't Heard Before

Sometimes it's hard to figure out what foods to eat. Many popular diets shun carbohydrates, while others discourage fats. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has some basic recommendations for healthy food choices to lose weight.

A healthy meal plan should include veggies, fruit, whole grains and low-fat dairy. For protein, you should eat lean meat, poultry, fish, beans and nuts. Choose these lean sources of protein as opposed to fatty foods like full-fat dairy and red meat. Protein sources that are higher in fat have more calories and tend to contain more saturated and trans fats.

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