The Benefits of Dance Cardio

How Dance Cardio Benefits Your Overall Health and Fitness Routine

Shake up your routine as you shake it out.

By Amy Gurvitz , Team PelotonUpdated September 13, 2023


Trying new classes is one of the best ways to avoid falling into a workout rut, and few are as fun as dance cardio. Not only does dance cardio have tangible health benefits, like improved flexibility and stress relief, but you don't need any equipment or experience to get started. All you have to do is show up.

Great for movement and coordination, dance cardio will motivate you and keep you coming back for more. If you haven’t tried it yet, here’s why you should.

What Is Dance Cardio?

While dancing may be considered a more social activity, dance cardio is actually quite different and has a little more to it than simply hitting the dance floor and throwing some shapes.

Cardio is any activity that gets your heart pumping over a sustained amount of time, and dance cardio ticks all the boxes. Using high-energy dance movements and specialized sequences all set to different tempos of music, dance cardio is a super fun and effective cardiovascular workout, building your endurance and stamina over time

Dance cardio is similar to an aerobics class, where you’ll work up a sweat, do some sequences, and have a whole lot of fun in the process. It might take some elements from more traditional forms of dance, such as certain choreography or tried and true warm-ups, but you certainly don't have to be a dancer to enjoy dance cardio classes.

Dance cardio classes follow a similar format to other cardio classes, so you’ll have a warm-up, warm-down, stretching, and around 30 to 45 minutes of dance cardio sequences. Depending on the class you take, there’ll be a different pace of music and routines designed to get your heart rate up, and some may incorporate other exercises into the mix too to help with balance, coordination, or core strength.

The key to making dance cardio work for you is to treat it like a regular workout. Build in time for it like you would any other class or workout, and get your sweat on with a fast, consistent pace. And, the best part? Not only can it improve your fitness and coordination, but learning new moves you may be able to put into practice on the actual dance floor makes it all the more rewarding.

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The Benefits of Dance Cardio Workouts

Dance has many benefits for fitness levels and beyond. Perfect if you’re not a gym fan or don’t love traditional workouts, or even if you’re just looking for more variety in your exercise, dance cardio workouts will make you sweat, and have fun in the process. 

You don’t have to have rhythm to do dance cardio, you can totally do it at your own pace. Just like any new form of exercise, it’s all about finding your own groove and sticking to it. And, over time, you’ll have a new skill to show off. 

Here are some of the top benefits of dance cardio.

Dance Cardio Gets Your Heart Pumping

Like cycling, walking, and running, dance cardio is an effective form of aerobic exercise. Studies have shown that it can improve your cardiovascular health. “It’s a great cardio workout alternative when I need a break from riding,” says Allison R. from Beaumont, Texas. “Once I learn the whole dance, I repeat it over and over. After 5-6 times through, I’m usually sweating good. It burns some serious calories and your legs will be on fire!”

To keep your heart rate up all throughout class, keep your feet moving, even if you can’t keep up with the choreography. “Don’t be afraid to modify,” offers Kristen Q. from Devon, Pennsylvania, who does dance cardio classes both as a warm-up and a complete workout. “If you’re not into a particular part of the choreography, just jam out with your best moves. You’ll definitely sweat!”

Dance Cardio Burns Calories

All forms of moderate to fast-paced exercise burns calories, but according to a study by the University of Brighton looking at different forms of dance from ballet to swing, it was found that dance can actually burn more calories than running, swimming, or cycling. While the amount of calories burned can depend on the pace of the dancing—with street dancing coming out as the most calories burned, slower dance forms like ballet still burn more calories than cycling in the same time period. 

Dance Cardio Can Improve Your Mood

Exercise has long been studied to have positive effects on your mood and dancing is no different. Finishing a dance workout has been likened by many as similar to a “runner’s high” with a flood of post-workout endorphins boosting your mood and energy levels. Add to that a sense of accomplishment too and it can do wonders for your mental health

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Dance Cardio Is Easy on Your Joints and Good for Bone Density

While some forms of exercise like running are a little harder on your joints due to the ground-foot impact, many forms of dancing can be lower impact and therefore kinder to your joints. And, because it’s a weight-bearing exercise, dance cardio can help boost bone density—with a study on osteoporosis finding that dancing can actually help reverse bone density loss

Dance Cardio Helps With Flexibility and Balance

By its very nature dancing helps improve joint mobility and flexibility, with the repetition of moves in many different directions over time helping to loosen things up and build a better sense of balance. Using a variety of different muscles, dance cardio helps condition those muscles and give the body a full and complete workout that can be different each time.

Dance Cardio Can Boost Memory and Brain Power

Just like doing a puzzle or crossword, dancing has actually been shown to boost cognitive functions. A little like problem solving, memorizing moves and connecting your brain to your body to carry you through the sequences has been shown to strengthen the parts of the brain connected to memory and fine motor skills.

No Experience Is Required for Dance Cardio

Whether you’re a former dancer or think you have two left feet, our dance cardio classes are for you. “The choreography is challenging enough for seasoned dancers but fun for beginners, too,” says Kristen. “Each move is carefully broken down and repeated, and the emphasis is on fun and constant motion, not perfection.”

Plus, since you’re working out at home, you can dance like nobody's watching—because, well, nobody’s watching. “You can improve your dance moves and your confidence slowly, without feeling like anyone is watching you or showing you up,” says Kristen. Another benefit of doing a digital class: You can pause and rewind until you have a sequence down.

“Don't think of it as a workout and just have fun,” says Peloton instructor Cody Rigsby. “Move your body without judgment and watch the sweat start to pour.”

Dancing Takes You Out of Your Comfort Zone

Discover how fun it can be to shake up your workout routine and try something new. “Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and give it a try,” says Allison R. “Don’t sweat what you look like doing it—it doesn’t have to be perfect as long as you are having fun.”

“Give yourself permission to look like a fool, but also to go full out like you're about to perform for a stadium full of people,” adds Cody. “Invite a friend to do it with you—half the fear, double the fun!

Dance Cardio Needs No Equipment

Unlike many other forms of fitness, dancing doesn’t need equipment, just space to move and the Peloton App if you’re doing a dance cardio class. Create a space in your home to really just let loose and move around freely, even if that means a little furniture adjustment, it’ll be worth it.

How to Take Advantage of a Dance Cardio Workout

Just like with any form of exercise the trick to tapping into its true benefits is all in consistency

Start off by adding dance cardio classes into your schedule once a week and go from there. If you love it, keep at it and add more. You can even incorporate it into your other workouts too as a warm up or bring other workout into your dance routine. 

And, be kind to yourself. We all have a habit of being our own worst critic but don’t let that stop you. You might not have JLo’s moves straight off the bat, but give yourself time and grace and anything is possible.

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