Many people avoid exercise because it’s hard work and zero fun. But there are a ton of health and fitness benefits available through dance. And for a lot of folks, dancing is way more enjoyable than hitting the weights or running on a treadmill.

When the pandemic closed businesses worldwide, some creative people got their steps in and calories burned (and sanity saved) through dance, following along to YouTube videos in their living room.

But now that places have opened up again, you can dance along with friends (or meet new people in the community) and still reap the rewards that dance offers. Here are nine reasons dancing is good for your health:

  1. Boosts cardiovascular health
  2. Builds core strength
  3. Promotes flexibility
  4. Can help with weight loss
  5. Good for bone health
  6. May help prevent memory loss
  7. Often boosts mental health
  8. Can help alleviate stress
  9. Promotes social connectedness

What are you waiting for? Grab some water, put on comfortable clothes, lace up a pair of supportive sneakers, and pick a dance style that appeals to you — whether it’s simply doing a jig around the house or joining an organized class for ballet, swing, jive, or Zumba.

What Is Zumba?

In 1986, Colombian dance instructor Beto Perez forgot the soundtrack for his aerobics class so he grabbed a personal mixtape featuring his favorite salsa and merengue music. Everyone loved the Latin style of the songs and dance moves Perez showed them. From that small moment, Perez eventually went on to create Zumba Fitness. And now, the Miami-based company is a household name with a reported 15 million people across 186 countries attending Zumba exercise classes every week. Did you know there are more than 100,000 certified Zumba instructors around the world?

While Zumba might not pass technical standards for Latin dancing, certified classes are based on the beats of salsa, flamenco, merengue, cumbia, bachata, and other dance styles.

The main thing is that participants have fun, which they do, because sessions feel more like a party than a workout. In fact, one of the company’s famous taglines is “Ditch the Workout, Join the Party” — with the emphasis clearly on moving to the music and having a good time, no rhythm required.

The Health Benefits of Zumba

According to WebMD, “Working up a sweat in the 60-minute classes burns an average of 369 calories — more than cardio kickboxing or step aerobics. You’ll get a great cardio workout that melts fat, strengthens your core, and improves flexibility.”

A traditional Zumba class is an excellent aerobic workout because it involves your whole body and includes high- and low-intensity intervals. However, the movements specifically target your core, legs, and glutes. A session won’t focus on back muscles, nor target arms — unless you take a specialized class like Zumba Toning that incorporates weights to strengthen arm muscles.

Keep in mind that Zumba is not a low-impact exercise, so if you have knee issues or other health conditions, it’s best to talk to your doctor before joining a class. But when you’re ready, the Active Marion Project (AMP) has Zumba classes for you!

Wellness Is a Lifestyle; Let’s Get Moving!

AMP is Marion County Hospital District’s (MCHD) initiative focused on workplace wellness and community health education. AMP acts as a challenge to Marion County residents to get moving towards a healthier lifestyle through fun step challenges and workplace wellness opportunities. Their aim is to motivate the community to become healthier, together.

Download the Active Marion Project 2 app to help you stay consistent with exercise and physical activity. For information on — or to sign up for — AMP’s Workplace Wellness educational classes and fun challenges click here.

For information on all MCHD’s community health programs and initiatives, visit the Marion County Hospital District website.