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By Brittany Rowan

Dancing for a healthier you

Working out, for some people, can seem so overwhelming. Where do I begin? How do I create a routine? How do I stick with a program? A lot of people want something that can motivate them to work out and burn calories in a fun way.

Dancing is extremely fun. Even if you're not a dancer, most dance programs show step-by-step buildup routines that you watch until you can get it down. While practicing, you are burning calories! Your heart rate rises, just like any form of cardio, and improves your heart health over time. The more your heart pumps, the better circulation your body gets and the stronger your heart becomes. Most people forget that the heart is also a muscle that has to be exercised. Without this strong muscle, you cannot get the proper amount of blood pumped to all parts of the body. Dancing also, over time, improves endurance and allows you to work out longer with fewer breaks.

Dancing can be simple or intricate. It is never the same each day, and it is very freeing. Once a person learning to dance actually gets the routine, it opens up their mind to the fact that they can do what they are setting out to do. It is wonderful cardio, but also strengthens muscles in your body because you are jumping and lunging and reaching, all in one routine. You get a full body workout in one dance routine.

In my experience, I can burn about 10 calories per minute while dancing. While this amount will be different for each dancer based on their weight and how hard they are working out, it is still exciting to know that something fun can burn this many calories or more. This calorie burn is fantastic and is equivalent to how much I burn while running. If people can understand that learning to dance is fun and effective, losing weight can become simple for them. Losing weight, while a huge factor in all exercise programs, is much more than just looking great. While this is a good reason to start working out, along with weight loss comes a much healthier you. Without all the extra fat, your heart doesn't have to work so hard to get the proper amount of blood everywhere it needs to go. Your lungs work well, your skin feels and looks better, and your brain can function better, especially if you're getting enough water. Weight loss is extremely important for your body, mind, and heart to stay healthy and to help you live longer with fewer health problems.

In the current program I am using, all of the classmates' weight-loss successes came as an extra bonus to the fun they had while completing the month-long program. This program includes popular songs and just makes you feel like you can dance. I am currently using this dance program as my extra cardio. It is so much fun that I do not mind popping in the DVD and getting lost in time. It doesn't seem like 30-40 minutes once it is over, and at the end I have learned a new routine to a song that I know. I would highly recommend dancing as an addition or even the only part of a workout regimen for losing fat. It is definitely beneficial for cardio and definitely a calorie-burning exercise.

There are so many options for dance. You can freestyle and burn calories. You can buy a gaming console, such as an Xbox 360 with a Kinect or a Wii, and do Zumba or Just Dance. You can buy a variety of programs that teach you how to dance, or even go on YouTube and find free videos. There are even classes specifically meant to teach pole fitness. Although the stripping part isn't so glamorous, the climbing and balancing on a pole with only your legs or one arm at a time is quite a feat.

Overall, dancing is wonderful for exercise. It is fun, goes by fast, and most importantly, gives results. There are varying levels of difficulty and always a new challenge you can place in front of yourself when learning to dance or adding to your skills. You can start at any stage, beginner to advanced. For many people, dancing is the only way they can fit in a workout.

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