- Exercise & Fitness
Fun Dance Workouts for Weight Loss at Home
One of the prevalent reasons that people quit exercising is that they get bored with doing the same old thing. Going for yet another run or trying to squeeze out another squat or pushup. Dancing is a great way to spice up your workout monotony with ever-changing choreographies. Even on busy days when you are stressed to find the time to exercise, you can still find 5 minutes to put on your favored song and just dance.
Is Dancing a Good Way to Exercise?
Dancing is an enjoyable way to exercise, suitable for people of all fitness levels and ages. A dance routine can easily be performed at home, requiring only your choice of music and room to move. A Dance workout can increase aerobic endurance and improve cardiovascular health, as well as enhance coordination, flexibility and balance. Dance routines inherently contain toning and strengthening moves, helping both our muscles and bones to get stronger.
Is Dancing Good for Your Health?
Dancing has been repeatedly shown to make people happy and positively energized. It helps to reduce depression, stress and anxiety, and improve body image, self-esteem and overall sense of well-being. Remembering and mastering the moves in dance choreographies improves cognitive learning and memory skills. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that considered 11 different physical activities, found that dancing reduced the risk of dementia by 76 percent.
Dancing can help improve your posture. In a good posture the bones are properly aligned, allowing muscles, joints and ligaments to work properly. Proper posture enhances overall balance and body control, and even improves your mood making you appear confident and alert.
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How to Find Good Dance Videos
Youtube is a great source for free dance choreographies, but sometimes one can get a little overwhelmed by the abundance of dance videos. A good starting point is to think of a song that you love, preferably an energetic one that will motivate you to start moving. This will give you a manageable list of dance routines to choose from. Here are 6 points to keep in mind when selecting a video for a dance workout:
- Make sure you can clearly see the entire body of the instructor throughout the dance. It can be very frustrating to start dancing with a video only to have it zoom in on the instructors face or on the background.
- It is easier to follow when the dancers are close to the camera and you can clearly see all the details of the steps.
- It can be simpler to concentrate when there are only one or two dancers on screen.
- The style of the choreography should suit your taste: are you looking for a specific style like hip-hop or salsa, or are you keeping an open mind and willing to try something new.
- High or low impact: In low-impact dance moves one foot always remains on the ground, while in high-impact elements both feet are off the ground. Choreographies with lots of jumping, skipping, and fast, high-intensity moves can be great for intense workouts and have the added bonus of burning lots of calories. However, high-impact moves may put extra stress on your joints, tendons and ligaments, and may not be suitable for people with a history of knees or back problems.
- Difficulty level: there are simple dance routines that you can easily pick up on the go and master after only 2-3 repeats. Other videos are for more advanced dancers. For some of the complex choreographies there could be an additional tutorial video with detailed step-by-step explanations.
How to Learn a Dance From a Video
The first time you practice a new routine you may want to slow down the video to 0.75 of the normal speed, to help you observe all the details. Another strategy to help simplify the learning process is to concentrate first on the leg movements, and add the hand gestures only once you feel reasonably confident.
A final point to remember is that your focus should not be on being precise and getting all the moves just right. But rather on simply moving your body and having fun. If I get confused or frustrated with some steps, I just shift my focus to the beat of the song and substitute in my own free-style moves. Look at videos with several dancers doing the same choreography; you'll notice that everybody is unique, doing their own slightly different variation.
1. "Lento" - Daniel Santacruz
As the name suggests this is a slower song, good for warming up and getting your body ready for some more rigorous dancing. I love the aesthetics of this video, the dancers in white with a completely black background. The focus is shifting seamlessly between the two dancers. Their movements are graceful and fluid yet strong and controlled. It is a good video to watch to for motivation, making you want to experience the moves for yourself.
2. "Vive Y Baila" - Max Pizzolante feat. Beto Perez
I think that this video can be a great introduction to the Zumba style of dancing. In this routine you'll start to shake your body with some salsa and merengue steps. It is easy to focus on the lead dancer, who is standing close enough to the camera to make it simple for us to see all the details. She is also giving clear visual cues well ahead of time, indicating which leg to move or when to turn around. I also like having the lyrics displayed at the bottom of the screen.
3. "Closer" - the Chainsmokers
There is a good chemistry between the dancers in this video. Their channel "Live Love Party" is a great source for simple and playful dance compositions. It is a very inviting video with dancers that look like regular people that are having fun together, rather than intimidating professionals. It also looks like they are doing the routine in a regular room as opposed to a gym. I think that this can feel highly encouraging to people who prefer to dance in the privacy of their own home.
4. "Me Too" - Meghan Trainor
Another choreography from the LiveLiveParty channel. With this video you really get the dance-party vibe, and it will surely have you dancing with a smile on your face. This is one of my go to videos when I feel stressed or upset and need a feel good boost. I also appreciate the song's message of self-love and self-empowerment, urging me to dance with confidence.
6. "Shape of you" - Ed Sheeran
I admit to being obsessed with this song, and this choreography by Antonia Natascha is one of my favorite for this song. The video is very clear, and the composition is simple yet interesting and a little bit flirty. I started by following Natascha's moves, and then noticed that the second dancer, Ayhan Sulu, is doing a slightly different variation that is also fun to try.
7. "6 am" - J Balvin feat. Farruko
This song has a catchy rhythm that is easy to dance to. The choreography is by Claudio López, whose YouTube channel is a great source for original Latin-flavored dance routines. The moves are not overly complex, yet the entire composition is energetic and engaging.
5. "Can't stop the feeling" - Justin Timberlake
This choreography comes from Saskia's Dansschool channel, which is a good source for youthful energetic dance routines to current pop tunes. This particular dance has a nice combination of high-energy yet mostly low impact moves. It is more of an intermediate level dance routine, so you may want to slow it down to 0.75X normal speed to pick up the moves. Do not get frustrated if you don’t pick it up right away, it does take some practice. Allow some time for the steps to sink in, and it will get easier with repetition.