The health benefits of cardio exercise cannot be overstated. It helps keep your heart healthy, burns calories and can help you to lose weight, lowers your risk of type 2 diabetes, lowers your blood pressure, strengthens your immune system, boosts your mood, helps you sleep, and improves your lung function. So making sure that you include cardio exercise in your routine should definitely be a priority. But can dance be considered a cardio exercise?

What is a cardio exercise?

Cardio exercise, also known as aerobic exercise, is exercise that raises your heart rate. This increase is important for getting the health benefits from cardio exercise and you should aim to get your heart rate into its “target zone”. This is the sweet spot where your heart rate is high enough for your fitness to improve but not so high that you are over-exerting yourself.

The target zone is generally between 50% and 85% of your maximum safe heart rate (which varies depending on your age). You can calcute your target heart rate or use a fitness tracker to do it for you, but there are also rules of thumb that you can use:

  • Moderate (50%-70%) – breathing deeper but still through your nose, can talk but can’t sing, sweating lightly
  • Vigorous (70% – 85%) – out of breath and breathing through your mouth, difficult to talk and words are choppy, sweating heavily

You should be getting around 150 mins of moderate exercise a week, according to health experts, but if you want to lose weight you should aim for around 300 mins a week.

Can dancing be cardio?

Dancing is a broad discipline that covers all sorts of different styles, from ballet to hip hop, and jazz to breakdancing. Each style of dance puts different demands on your body and will task different muscle groups more intensely than others. In general, however, dancing is a whole body exercise that brings in all of the major muscle groups, including: core, arms, legs, glutes, back.

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Because of the big movements that you make with these large muscle groups, the quick stopping and starting, the fast movements, and the jumping, dancing can definitely be considered a cardio workout. When you dance, your heart rate will get higher and hit your target heart rate zone.

Is dancing a good form of cardio?

The number of calories you burn dancing can depend on a variety of factors such as your age, weight, the type of dance, and the intensity that you are working. On average, however, you can expect to burn between 350 and 400 calories in an hour of dancing. This is actually quite a high calorie burn! You would burn about the same if you jogged for an hour.

So why choose dancing over jogging? Well there are lots of very good reasons why you should make dancing your cardio exercise of choice.

1) It is a full body workout

When you dance, you are targeting every single one of your muscle groups. Not only does this burn more calories, but it also strengthens those muscles. The stronger you get those muscles, the fitter you will be and the more calories you will burn outside of class.

2) It improves your flexibility, coordination, and balance

The great thing about dancing is not only is it cardio and strength training, it also improves other aspects of your fitness. It can help make you more flexible, give you better posture, and improve your coordination and balance. You will feel these improvements in your everyday life, and it also gives you a solid base to build the rest of your fitness training on.

3) It is fun!

We all know that time flies when we’re having fun, and an hour of dancing feels a whole lot shorter than an hour of jogging! This is important because it means that you are more likely to keep going for that hour and you will want to do it again sooner, which means you will get fitter faster.

The bottom line

Dancing can definitely be a cardio exercise. Dancing on a regular basis will get you all of the health benefits that come from doing cardio exercise. It will also get you stronger and fitter, improve your flexibility/posture/coordination/balance, and you will have a lot of fun doing it. You can’t really ask for more!

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