Like any good low-impact cardio workout, such as running or aerobics, dancing can improve cardiovascular health, increase stamina, strengthen bones and muscles and stave off illnesses, like diabetes and heart disease. But aside from the perks associated any heart-pounding activity, dancing has a cardio edge, with unique benefits that actually can't be achieved by other low-impact exercises. "Dancing can give you more than traditional cardio," explains Fabio Comana, exercise physiologist and senior fitness education for the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Comana describes five components of fitness: cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, muscular endurance, body composition and muscular strength. An activity like, say, running on the treadmill may improve cardiovascular endurance and body composition, but an activity like dancing can actually target those two, as well as muscular endurance and flexibility. And that's on top of improved balance, agility, coordination, power, reactivity and speed, he explains. But we're not talking slow dances here -- to count as true cardio, Comana suggests aiming for an exertion level somewhere between a 5 and a 7 on a scale where 1 is resting and 10 is the hardest thing you can do. Try the talk test: you shouldn't be so out of breath that you can't speak, but your words should be a little choppy and your breath heavy.
"If exercise is not an enjoyable experience, we're not going to do it," Comana says. And the bottom line is that dancing is, plain and simple, fun in the way a monotonous treadmill run probably never will be. Plus, busting a move can trigger the release of feel good hormones like serotonin and endor...
Also watch: Calvin Johnson stays alive with a jive on DWTS