Those living room dance parties may NOT be enough for aerobic fitness.
If you love to dance, there are ways to make this count towards a good level of cardiovascular fitness.
I was inspired to write this article after seeing a video of yet another spontaneous “dance party” by a 240 pound self-love influencer.
She typically has an unplanned urge to have dance parties in her living room and kitchen, having her two young kids join in. She always looks very comfortable and relaxed while moving.
Many plus size women – children or no children – engage in what they call dance parties. They may or may not be planned.
For Fun or Fitness?
It’s one thing to suddenly start shimmying around and swaying to and fro when the urge strikes – simply because you like to do this and it helps relieve stress.
However, what if you believe – or are wondering whether or not – your dance parties are sufficient for keeping you aerobically fit?
From the way I’ve seen the 240 pound influencer moving, there’s no way that this will yield for her a strong heart and lungs, and efficient blood vessels – especially since these spontaneous, easygoing events last only several minutes.
On the other hand, a session of dance, when done a certain way, can do a great job of improving cardiorespiratory fitness.
Movement Isn’t Enough
The very plus-size self-love influencer, and many like her, will insist, “It’s movement! ANY movement is good! It’s better than sitting on the couch!”
But if your standard of reference is that of sitting on a couch, this should tell you something.
If you must compare your movement to that of a couch potato, that is a very low standard, and is a strong sign that you need to fire things up if you want better heart and lung health.
How to Tell Your Dance Parties Are Making You Fit
Working up a sweat may be one way. This depends. Some women sweat easily, especially if they’re postmenopausal. Sweat may also easily come if the room is on the warm side or not well-ventilated.
But if the room is cool and you’re wearing light clothes, sweat may also mean that you’ve entered your target heart rate for aerobic exercise.
Another point to consider is that if you sweat to what seems like very low-level, minimal activity, this means your physical fitness isn’t as good as you think.
Singing and talking. If you can sing while moving, you’re not exercising hard enough. But again, as mentioned, if the only purpose of your dance parties is to have fun, then that’s a whole different topic.
This is about what it takes to cause a training effect on your cardiovascular system – if that’s what’s important to you.
If you can easily carry on a conversation with your kids or someone in the room while dancing away, this, too, is not sufficient for a training effect.
Yes, it’s better than sitting around, but remember, that’s a pretty low standard of comparison!
If your talking is halting and erratic while you’re moving about, you’ve entered a zone for which there will be a training effect. If you’re not speaking but your respiration is noticeably increased, you’ll get a training effect.
In other words, you’re not in a comfort zone. It’s challenging enough to affect your ability to speak.
You feel a little out of breath or slightly winded. Keep at it. This is good. It will force your cardiorespiratory system to adapt.
Keep moving for a minimum of 20 minutes, recommends the American Council on Exercise, for aerobic conditioning.
If you’re moving so intensely that you can’t sustain it for longer than several minutes, this would be considered vigorous movement, relative to your level of fitness.
if it gets you really huffing and puffing, and you prefer to take a few minutes of active rest (easy movements, basic yoga) between multiple intervals, that’s another great way to improve heart and lung fitness.
If you normally do dance parties for only several minutes, you should make every minute count if you want this activity to boost your cardiovascular health.
If it feels like a warmup, this is a sign that it’s not rigorous enough to induce a training effect.
How to Increase the Intensity of Your Dance Parties
• Speed up your movements.
• Add some hopping and single-leg leaps.
• Add some leaping up onto a 12 inch exercise stool.
• Hold light hand weights.
• Add more difficult moves.
• Add jumping jacks.
• Lift your legs higher.
• Place nearly all the emphasis on your lower body; spend less time shimmying the shoulders.
If you want more physical fitness, you won’t achieve this with lazy swaying and shimmying around. The more you kick butt during your dance parties, the more fit your body will become.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.