Style & ShowbizHealth

Dance beats running for fitness

HealthBy Sunday World
Dance beats running for fitness

Hands up who’s already thinking about New Year’s resolutions? If so, we’d be willing to bet health and fitness are at the centre of them; after all, we’re about to overindulge big style, so it stands to reason we’re planning for a change in January.

If we’ve hit the nail on the head, you might want to hold off signing up for that gym membership. According to a new study, dance classes are more effective than hours spent running or cycling.

“Dance not only appears to increase positive and reduce negative emotions, which are typical effects of exercise, but we also found that dancing actually reduced feelings of fatigue too,” Dr Nick Smeeton, from the University of Brighton, explained.

“People may be familiar with runners’ high and there appears to be a similar effect after dancing too.”

Half an hour of street, swing and contemporary dance classes all had the same impact on a group of students. The 15 dancers had their heart rate, psychological state, the amount of energy they’d used and distance they’d moved measured during the classes, and it was found that they all burnt more calories than people who swam, cycled or ran for the same amount of time.

Weight, fitness levels and age were all taken into account to make sure the test was fair, with the dancers burning 293 calories compared to 249 for swimmers, 264 for runners and 258 for footballers.

The dance classes involved were ballet, ballroom, contemporary, salsa, street and swing.

If the thought of zipping around the floor in a tutu doesn’t do it for you, we have extra fitness advice courtesy of another study. The stomach is notoriously tricky to tone, which is why many people dedicate gym time to a complex routine of sit-ups. However, fitness experts in America have called for them to be ditched in favour of things like the plank (when you hold your body aloft by balancing on your arms and feet) because they can actually damage the back.

Both the US Navy and Marine Corps are said to be reviewing the exercises recruits take part in as they strive to boost fitness and cut injuries. In Canada, the Armed Forces using sandbags to exercise with instead of doing sit-ups and it’s been found that over half of injuries among US soldiers are because of the stomach exercise.

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