From the Author: I live in Southern California and have been country dancing for over 6 years. I have spent countless nights out both line dancing and partner dancing and have traveled around to see firsthand almost all the places on my list. Please comment below! I generally respond quickly!
Are you trying to lose a little weight or get in better shape, but you hate going to the gym? There are a ton of other ways to get physical activity that is more enjoyable than going to the gym and getting on a treadmill, bike, or elliptical. To really be successful in weight loss, it’s important to do something that you enjoy, like line dancing!
Line dancing does help with losing weight because it elevates your heart rate for an extended period of time. When you elevate your heart rate through dancing, your body burns more calories. One key to losing weight is burning more calories than you consume, so line dancing can definitely help!
Different line dances are performed at different levels of intensity. The higher the intensity, the greater calorie burn. In this article, we will also discuss other elements of line dancing that can contribute to weight loss include building muscle in your legs, back, and abdominals.
How Does Line Dancing Help with Losing Weight?
Line dancing incorporates a variety of different exercise elements. It includes cardiovascular exercise for your heart, strength training for your muscles, and endurance for overall body function. It is also an amazing way to relieve stress because it’s fun and just makes you feel good.
Line Dancing Provides Cardiovascular Exercise
Dancing is a form of exercise that is mainly considered to be cardiovascular or cardio as most people refer to it. Cardio is a type of exercise that involves an increase in your heart rate as discussed earlier. It is excellent not only for weight loss but also for your heart health.
If you think about your biceps, they get strong the more you do bicep curls. It is the same concept as your heart. Assuming you do not have any major heart conditions that would alter the outcome of cardio exercise, the more you do, the stronger your heart will become.
Line Dancing Helps Build Muscle
But dancing doesn’t just elevate your heart rate and contribute to a cardiovascular workout. It is also a really great way to build muscles in your legs, back, and abdominals. The more muscle you build, the more calories your body will burn at rest.
Let’s say that again… The more muscle you build, the more calories your body will burn at rest. Muscle is what we like to call high-maintenance! It requires a ton of energy and upkeep. Since muscles need more calories to recover from exercise and to maintain their structure, they will contribute to a higher overall calorie burn for your body on a daily basis.
Dancing builds muscles in your legs through the different footwork, jumps, turns, pivots, and sometimes squat-like movements. During these types of dance moves, your quadriceps, calves, and hamstrings are working to shift your bodyweight back and forth. There are also many dances that include movements that are similar to half-squats even full squats that place a huge amount of resistance on your leg muscles to lift your body back to an upright position.
In addition to your leg muscles, line dancing can also help to build muscle in your lower back and abdominals. Dances that include torso twists, side bends, and hip movements are prime examples of this. They will force the muscles in your abs and low back to activate, which in turn helps to tone and burn more calories.
Line Dancing Builds Endurance
Endurance can be achieved on multiple levels when you dance frequently. You might start out with 30-minute dance sessions and find that your hips, back, or feet start to hurt. However, if you are consistent with your dance sessions over time, you will start to notice that you can dance a little longer, a little faster, or a little harder.
This is because your body is getting stronger and more apt to the work that it is doing. Like they say: “practice makes perfect”. Although we’re not really striving for perfection here, we are certainly striving for our hearts and our muscles to get stronger.
The beautiful thing is that the stronger your muscles and heart get, the more calories you’ll be able to burn, not only from having more muscle but also because your dance sessions will likely become longer, more intense, and more productive.
Line Dancing Provides Stress Relief
One of the best reasons to use line dancing to help with weight loss is the potential for stress relief. It might seem unrelated, but stress is definitely a factor that can lead to overweight and obesity. Stress has been linked to weight gain in tons of scientific studies and continues to be researched as a key factor.
Not to get too “science-y”, but stress releases a hormone called cortisol. Too much cortisol released into the body contributes to weight gain by inhibiting your body’s ability to process things like fat and sugar. If your body can’t process those things, it will store them as fat instead.
In order to avoid allowing stress to cause weight gain, it is recommended that people find ways to relieve stress on a daily basis. This can be achieved through meditation, deep breathing, going for a walk outside, spending time with loved ones, etc. It can also be achieved through exercise, which obviously includes line dancing!
Key Things to Consider When Using Line Dancing as a Way to Lose Weight
There are a variety of things to consider with any weight loss program. The different elements of an exercise session can be combined in different ways for different results. With line dancing specifically, you should consider the following things:
- The duration of dance sessions
- The intensity of the dances
- The order in which you perform the dances
- The rest time in between dances
You basically want to get your heart rate elevated and keep it there for an extended period of time. There are different methodologies in terms and duration and intensity for cardiovascular exercise, including line dancing. There is no single correct formula, so try a few different things before you decide what is going to work best for you.
Here is a breakdown of the elements listed above and how they affect your dance workout.
The Duration of Dance Sessions
According to the American Academy of Sport Medicine, you should aim for about 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least five days per week. It can vary based on specific health concerns and varying intensity levels of your exercise. You should talk to your doctor before starting any exercise program.
Assuming you are medically cleared to exercise for 30 minutes or more per session, this is a really good starting point. If you’ve been dancing or doing other forms of exercise for a long time, you will likely be able to dance longer than 30 minutes at a time. Your best bet is to listen to both your doctor and your body.
The longer your exercise session, the more calories you will burn over. Think of it as going for a walk or a jog. If you’re out there for 30 minutes, you might burn 200 calories but if you’re out there for an hour, you could burn double that. Remember the goal is to elevate your heart rate for an extended period of time that feels comfortable (and fun!) to you.
The Intensity of the Dances
Different dances have different levels of intensity. We will get more into specific dances in a later section, but knowing the ones you enjoy doing and how they affect your heart rate is really helpful when using line dancing for weight loss. The higher the intensity, the more calories you will burn.
Higher intensity dances might cause you to need longer breaks in between dances, or could even cause you to shorten the duration of your exercise session. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but rather something to consider when planning out your dance sessions.
If you want your sessions to be longer because you just really enjoy dancing, you might select low-to-moderate intensity dances. If you don’t have a lot of time, you might choose high-intensity dances because you will be able to burn more calories over a shorter span of time. It’s really a matter of personal preference.
The Order in Which You Perform the Dances
If you’re ever heard of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), you know that it can be applied to multiple forms of exercise. In a nutshell, the workout includes alternating periods of higher intensity and lower intensity work. This requires your heart rate to increase, recover, increase, recover, which helps you burn more calories.
Since different dances have different levels of intensity, you can alternate them in order to create your own HIIT workout through dancing. It will not only make the dance session more efficient from an exercise perspective but will also make it more fun. When you’re out in a dance hall, the songs are often alternated in this way, not for exercise purposes, but just because the playlist is varied to keep things interesting.
The Rest Time in Between Dances
Last but not least, you should consider the rest time in between dances if you’re trying to use line dancing as a way to lose weight. Too much rest time in between dances can decrease the effectiveness of the dance session from an exercise perspective. Although it will still be fun, you won’t burn as many calories.
We recommend no more than 60-90 seconds between dances unless you are really exhausted from a high-intensity one. Your body basically gets into an energy-burning cycle during cardiovascular exercise and you want it to stay there. If you do one dance and then go sit down for 15 minutes before the next one, you won’t get the full benefit that you would if you tried to dance consistently for at least thirty minutes.
Again, it is always really important to listen to your body. If you need to rest, by all means, REST! But if not, keep moving for maximum calorie burn!
Which Line Dances Are Best for Weight Loss?
There are so many dances that it’s hard to narrow them down and list them out. However, there are several that tend to be staples in any dance hall or line dancing class. We will focus on a lot of the staples and throw in a few more elusive ones just for fun.
For this list, we have categorized them into high, moderate, and low intensities. Some of the dances will seem to fit into a different category based on your own fitness level, so don’t get hung up on the levels. This is meant to be used as a basic framework so you can decide whether you need to add some higher or lower intensity options into your workout.
Slappin’ Leather is a dance that is typically performed to fast-paced songs that are upwards of 140 beats per minute or more. One of the eight-counts in this dance also includes standing on one leg while “slapping” the leather of your boots on the other foot. This is building some major quad muscles and cranks your heart rate up. I’ve included Slappin’ Leather in a previous post “20 Beginning Line Dances You Need To Know!” check it out to learn the dance!
Cotton Eyed Joe is a really fast-paced dance with a lot of jumping movements in it. This one will really get your heart pumping and probably make you sweat a little bit. It’s awesome for a burst of high-intensity cardio and also a major calorie-burner.
Copperhead Road is an awesome dance that is not only a blast to do, but also a burst of cardio. It has a lot of variations, depending on what area of the country you live in, but it is typically a high-intensity dance.
Tush Push is a nice, moderate-intensity dance that goes well with songs that are around 120-130 beats per minute. It has some body rolls in it that are great for working your abs and back, as well. Click here to find out more about the Tush Push and see an instructional video on my post called: “20 Beginning Line Dances You Need To Know!”
The Cowboy Cha-Cha can be low or moderate intensity, depending on what song you choose, but it’s really fun to do and activates lots of muscles in your quads and hips. It is a simple 20 count line dance that has some similarities to the partner version.
Watermelon Crawl is a really fun dance that goes along with the song Watermelon Crawl by Tracy Byrd. It’s great for coordination because it involves several changes in direction throughout that don’t necessarily seem intuitive. Click here to find out more about the Watermelon Crawl and see an instructional video.
The Boot Scootin’ Boogie can probably fit into both the moderate and low categories, depending on your fitness level. It is fairly low-key in terms of
Neon Moon is a cha-cha that does not involve any of high-intensity moves. It is slow and flowing but activates the abs and low back. The sheer nature of a cha-cha includes a lot of hip movement, which is what activates those muscles.
Where Can I Go to Do Country Line Dancing?
Depending on where you live, there might be some dance halls or even dance studios that teach line dancing. Definitely do some online research about your area and see what you can find. Many dance halls will offer dance lessons early in the evening before the night really gets going, so that’s a great place to start.
But if you happen to live in the So. Cal area or in Nashville or central TN, check my list posts of the 15 Best Country Bars for Dancing for either place.
15 Best Country Bars for Dancing in Southern California
15 Best Country Bars for Dancing in Nashville, TN
There are also a lot of different options for dancing in the comfort of your own home with streaming options. There are tons of YouTube channels available that teach line dancing and also play music along with their dances so you can practice. If YouTube isn’t your thing, you could consider something else like Country Heat, which is a workout program produced by Beach Body.
Something else that is available is online dance academies. These are a little different than YouTube or Beach Body, but they work in much the same way. You can register as a student of an academy and get instruction from a dance teacher through video conferencing systems. This can be a great option, as well.
Regardless of which format you choose, you can really build a nice workout program for yourself using these different online resources. You’re going to burn calories whether you do it at the local dance hall or in the comfort of your own living room. Just be sure that if you’re using YouTube videos that you line them up ahead of time. Remember that you don’t want to rest too long in between dances because your heart rate will come back down!
Going Dancing is a Great Fun Form of Exercise
Hopefully, you’ve learned a thing or two about cardiovascular exercise, how it helps your body and how line dancing fits into this equation. In general, it’s important to just enjoy your dance sessions and not get hung up in the nitty gritty of programming certain songs and dances into the lineup. Your body will respond favorably to any additional physical activity, so just get up and get moving.
Dancing is an excellent form of exercise and one that is easy to stick to if you love to dance. The exercise that you will do consistently is the best kind!