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Aerobic Dance Workouts for Fitness

written by: Finn Orfano • edited by: Angela Atkinson • updated: 2/23/2011

Trusted fitness and health organizations recommend doing regular aerobic workouts to maintain health and fitness. But that doesn't have to mean working out in the gym--you can also build aerobic fitness through all kinds of dance.

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    Defining Aerobic Dance

    Your easiest bridge into aerobic dance workouts is taking literal aerobic dance classes at the gym. Zumba (high-energy aerobics based on a variety of Latin beats) has recently exploded into popularity, but you'll also encounter Jazzercise (the "original" trademarked aerobic dance class) and a variety of themed aerobic dance classes including hip-hop, bellydancing, Bollywood and generically termed "dance aerobics" classes that could combine style elements from any of the above.

    But aerobics classes aren't the only way to build cardiovascular fitness through dancing. Branch out into dance classes offered at the gym (ballroom or Latin series are common offerings), or take your workout out of the gym to other dance venues. Escaping the gym is one of the best ways to conquer the common "no time, no money" excuse for not working out.

    Whether you're partner dancing or just boogying down at the club, anything that gets your large muscle groups moving rhythmically and keeps you moving for at least 10 minutes at a time counts toward your total cardiovascular exercise for the day.

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    Gauging Intensity

    The generally accepted recommendation for maintaining good health--and reaping the disease-reducing, mood-boosting, energy-revving benefits associated with increased fitness--is 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise on most days of the week. You'll know that your aerobic dance workout has hit moderate intensity when your heart beats faster than when at rest, you break a sweat, and you feel slightly out of breath. You should have enough wind to carry on a normal conversation, but not to sing or speak a monologue.

    You can cut down on your workout time by increasing your workout intensity. Intense aerobic activity gets you so out of breath that you can only speak a few words at a time. But one of the biggest advantages of aerobic dance workouts is that once you find the right movement style and music, you'll be having so much fun you won't want to stop after a paltry 30 minutes.

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    Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Dance Workout

    Dance is all about finding a groove and making it your own. But following a few basic tips can help you get your aerobic dance workouts started on the right foot:

    • Wear comfortable shoes. If you've found your niche, invest in a pair of dance shoes intended for that style of dance. Your feet will thank you, and well-built dance shoes last long enough to justify the cost.
    • Being willing to dance with anybody will help you make friends on the social dance scene and ensure that you spend less time sitting and more time exercising having fun.
    • If you can find a like-minded partner that wants to stand up and dance as often as possible for fitness' sake, go for it! You can have a regular dance partner and still circulate with other dancers, too.

    Braving the dance floor takes some guts. If you feel shy, remember that others are usually there to dance too, not to criticize you. But if you really can't stomach dancing in public, you can enjoy the same physical benefits by working out to dance DVDs or grooving to your favorite music at home.