While you may think Zumba, for instance, looks like a good workout and a good time, there are a few things to consider before signing up for a class: your age, your health and your fitness level. These three things are key to figuring out what type of dance-fitness -- and physical activity in general -- is best for you.
Let's look at Jazzercise again. Jazzercise is a dance-fitness program that has been around for decades -- since 1969 -- and it's available in many communities in all 50 states (as well as in 32 countries). There are several types of Jazzercise class formats, including routines that are low impact and one designed for kids. Routines are tailored for your age, how fit you are or if you're healing from an injury or illness.
A study conducted at the Breast Cancer Survivorship Center at the University of Kansas found that participating actively in Jazzercise classes over a two-year period helped breast cancer survivors drop body fat as well as blood pressure and insulin levels [Source: Varon].
Maintaining good overall fitness -- no matter which dance workout routine you choose -- can help reduce your risk of developing certain cancers, but maintaining your health and fitness level in the face of cancer may also help survival rates.
And it's not just the more intense dance-fitness routines that offer such good mind-body benefits. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that people who participated in ballroom dancing a minimum of two times per week had a reduced risk of developing dementia, including Alzheimer's disease [Source: AARP].
Look for classes at your local gym or at a local dance school or community center. Some types of dance, like ballroom dancing, have inspired popular TV shows such as "Dancing with the Stars," on which celebrities such as Kirstie Alley, Kyle Massey and Kelly Osbourne have trimmed down over the show's 12 seasons. Before enrolling in a class, talk to the instructor about any concerns (such as you're new to dance, or new to exercise) or health issues you may have. And if you're shy? There's nothing stopping you from dancing around your own home -- just be sure to warm up, cool down and get your heart pumping. Keep it up and you'll be on "So You Think You Can Dance" in no time at all.
- AARP. "Let's Dance to Health." 2005. (May 23, 2011) http://www.aarp.org/health/fitness/info-2005/dance_to_health.html
- American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine. "What is Aerobic Dancing?" (May 23, 2011) http://www.aapsm.org/aerobics.html
- American Council on Exercise. "Nancy O'Dell Teams With The Hershey Center for Health & Nutrition to Get America Dancing – National Initiative in Collaboration with the ADA and American Council on Exercise." 2011. (May 23, 2011) http://www.acefitness.org/pressroom/1401/nancy-o-dell-teams-with-the-hershey-center-for/
- American Council on Exercise. "Test Results Reported on Fitness Benefits of Nintendo's Wii Fit and PC-Based Exergame, Dancetown." 2009. (May 23, 2011) http://www.acefitness.org/pressroom/442/test-results-reported-on-fitness-benefits-of/
- Anderson, Jocelyn. "10-Minute Workout: Belly-Dance Away Ab Flab." Fitness Magazine. (May 23, 2011) http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/workout/abs/express/belly-dancing-abs-workout/
- Bauknecht, Sara. "Popularity of TV dance shows inspires new interest in ballroom, salsa." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 2009. (May 23, 2011) http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09327/1015578-51.stm
- Craddock, Barbara. "Benefits of Dancing & Quick Tips for Staying Healthy." Dancescape. 2006. (May 23, 2011) http://www.dancescape.org/ezine/articles/8/1/Benefits-of-Dancing--Quick-Tips-for-Staying-Healthy/Page1.html
- Dascomb, Audrey. "The Benefits of Dance." National Registry of Dance Educators. (May 23, 2011) http://www.nrde.org/benefitsofdance.html, Jazzercise. 2011. (May 23, 2011) http://www.jazzercise.com
- Iliades, Chris. "Getting Fit With Zumba." Everyday Health. 2011. (May 23, 2011) http://www.everydayhealth.com/fitness/getting-fit-with-zumba.aspx
- Kripalu. "Yoga Trance Dance: The Power of Collective Flow." (May 23, 2011) http://www.kripalu.org/program/view/YDTT-111/yoga_trance_dance8482_the_power_of_collective
- Matthews, Jessica. "What are the benefits of dance inspired workouts?" American Council on Exercise. (May 23, 2011) http://www.acefitness.org/blog/99/what-are-the-benefits-of-dance-inspired-workouts/
- Mayo Clinic. "Aerobic exercise: How to warm up and cool down." 2011. (May 23, 2011) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/exercise/SM00067
- Murphy, Meaghan. "Is 'Dancing With the Stars' Becoming More of a Weight Loss Competition than a Dancing Show?" FoxNews.com. 2011. (May 23, 2011) http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2011/03/03/dancing-stars-weight-loss-competition-dancing/
- Nia. 2011. (May 23, 2011) http://www.nianow.com/
- Schaefer, Kayleen. "Lining Up to the Barre." The New York Times. 2011. (May 23, 2011) http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/12/fashion/at-ballet-workouts-getting-that-dancer-physique.html?_r=1
- Varon, Roz. "Jazzercise benefits breast cancer survivors." ABC 7 Chicago. 2010. (May 23, 2011) http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/health&id=7428391
- Verghese, Joe et al. "Leisure Activities and the Risk of Dementia in the Elderly." The New England Journal of Medicine. Vol. 348. Pages 2508-2516. 2003. (May 23, 2011) http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa022252
- Warburton, Darren E.R et al. "The health benefits of interactive video game exercise." Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism. Vol. 32, no. 4. Pages 665-663. 2007. (May 23, 2011) http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/nrc/apnm/2007/00000032/00000004/art00004