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Dancing an effective way for obese people to lose weight – study

Regularly attending dance classes such as step aerobics or zumba may help overweight and obese people lose weight, studies suggest.

Scientists said a review of 10 studies indicates those who took part in dancing at least three times a week for four weeks, also saw a “meaningful improvement” in their waist circumference and body fat.

People below the age of 45 benefited most from dance workouts, according to the findings published in the journal Plos One, with improved body composition (the percentages of fat, bone and muscle) as well as physique.

Group of dancer at Zumba fitness training in studio (Alamy/PA)
The studies indicated those who took part in dancing at least three times a week for four weeks lost weight and saw an improvement in their waist circumference and body fat (Alamy/PA)

The overall dropout of the dance group was low, the researchers said, suggesting that dancing could be “effectively advocated as a viable fat loss programme” as it is more enjoyable than other conventional forms of exercise.

It is estimated nearly 26% of adults in England are obese and a further 38% are overweight.

Obesity increases the risk of many other health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer – such as breast cancer and bowel.

As as part of a meta-analysis, the researchers reviewed data from 646 people (114 men and 532 women), aged between 21 and 71, who were overweight or obese.

Of them, 321 people were enrolled in dance classes – such as step aerobics, zumba, cheerleading dance, dance video games, creative dance and traditional types of dance such as the Indian bhangra – while the rest were in a control group.

The duration of each class ranged from 40 mins and 90 mins, taking place around three to five times a week.

Those in the control group maintained their normal lifestyles which, in some cases, also included physical activity such as walking or other forms of exercise.

Both groups were followed for an average of eight to 12 weeks, with some assessed for up to a year.

The findings showed that, on average, people in the dance group lost 1.92 kilograms of body mass compared to those in the control group.

The researchers wrote: “Conventional exercise (such as running, cycling, and swimming) is excessively monotonous, posing challenges for adherence.

“Dance, as a form of exercise engaging multiple joints, not only proves to be efficacious in fat reduction but also boasts amusement value, rendering it more conducive for people to exercise habit formation.”

They added: “The results indicated that when compared to the normal lifestyle, dance exhibits a significant effect on the improvement of body composition among people with overweight and obesity.

“From the meta-analysis, dance demonstrated the capacity to effectively reduce body mass, body mass index, waist circumference, body fat percentage and body fat in kilos, which was in agreement with previous researches.”