Danza Contemporanéa de Cuba. Photo by Quinn Wharton

Yup, Dance Is The Best Workout. Science Says So.

We already know that dancing is basically the greatest thing you could do for yourself. (Even if, ahem, your feet end up without toenails during sandal season.)

But it's always great when science proves us right.


A small study out of the University of Brighton in the UK shows that dancing burns about 600 calories per hour, which is about the same or more than going for a swim or a run for the same amount of time. Of course, an hour of grand allegro is going to push your body much harder than an hour of your grandfather's two-step. But researchers say that even tamer styles of dance can burn about the same number of calories as cycling.

Pennsylvania Ballet's Adrianna de Svastich. Photo by Jim Lafferty.

Nick Smeeton, a coauthor of the report, told Time magazine that all the changes of directions, accelerating and decelerating, and stopping and starting challenges your body in a way that a straightforward run around the park never will. You can't just coast by on momentum when you're dancing. And more of the little support muscles get activated—and strengthened—because your body moves in so many different ways.

But let's not forget that dance is worth much more than calorie burn and muscle building. Research has also shown that it improves mood, lowers stress, boosts energy, curbs anxiety, slows cognitive decline, increases confidence—we could go on and on.

Let's just say, dance for the win!

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Stark Photo Productions, Courtesy Harlequin

Why Your Barre Can Make or Break Your At-Home Dance Training

Throughout the pandemic, Shelby Williams, of Royal Ballet of Flanders (aka "Biscuit Ballerina"), has been sharing videos that capture the pitfalls of dancers working from home: slipping on linoleum, kicking over lamps and even taking windows apart at the "barre." "Dancers aren't known to be graceful all of the time," says Mandy Blackmon, PT, DPT, OSC, CMTPT, head physical therapist/medical director for Atlanta Ballet. "They tend to fall and trip."

Many dancers have tried to make their home spaces as safe as possible for class and rehearsal by setting up a piece of marley, like Harlequin's Dance Mat, to work on. But there's another element needed for taking thorough ballet classes at home: a portable barre.

"Using a barre is kinda Ballet 101," says 16-year-old Haley Dale, a student in her second year at American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. She'd bought a portable barre from Harlequin to use at her parents' home in Northern Virginia even before the pandemic hit. "Before I got it, honestly I would stay away from doing barre work at home. Now I'm able to do it all the time."

Blackmon bought her 15-year-old stepdaughter a freestanding Professional Series Ballet Barre from Harlequin early on in quarantine. "I was worried about her injuring herself without one," she admits.

What exactly makes Harlequin's barres an at-home must-have, and hanging on to a chair or countertop so risky? Here are five major differences dancers will notice right away.

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December 2020