Research shows that dance can make a big difference to your fitness. Read on to discover why dance benefits every body, and how to add effective dance workouts into your training routine.

When it comes to dance fitness, there are two camps. Those who love to dance it out at the drop of a beat … and the rest of us. Sure, us ‘dare-not dancers’ can see merit in the idea of moving to music, but lack of coordination and an unwillingness to let loose means we’re quick to overlook the many and varied perks that come from dancing. So what exactly are we missing out on?

Dance fitness is nothing new. Mainstream aerobic dance workouts first emerged in the 1970s, and ballet-inspired barre training has been around since then too (although back then it had surprisingly sexual undertones). In the 1980s jazzercize took off, and then Zumba became a pop culture phenomenon. Along the way, dance fitness became tarnished with the misconception it was just for middle-aged women looking to shake their hips like Shakira. But these days modern dance fitness spans everything from hip-hop to ballet. It’s diverse, dynamic, and anything but dull.

What’s more, it’s highly effective for boosting fitness.

A good dance session lifts your heart rate and delivers a seriously good cardio workout. It can improve muscular strength and muscle tone, and importantly enhance your coordination, agility and flexibility. Dancing can also help alleviate stress and ease depression, and unlock a wealth of exercise endorphins. Research also indicates dance can increase the number of cells in the brain's hippocampus, the region of the brain responsible for long and short-term memory as well as spatial navigation. This is one of the reasons why dance is known as the best exercise for staying young.

To further explore the benefits of dance, the team at ACE enlisted the Department of Exercise and Sport Science at the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse to identify the specific benefits associated with one of Les Mills’ globally-renowned dance programs.

The researchers recruited 19 healthy 18 to 22-year-old women, each with some aerobic dance experience and with no cardiovascular or orthopedic limitations to exercise. After practicing Les Mills’ BODYJAM™ at least three times, they completed a 55-minute session in small groups. Each participant’s heart rate was recorded continuously throughout the workout and a rating of perceived exertion was taken after the warm-up, every three to five minutes during the workout, and after the cool-down.

The study found that during the workout, participants were exercising at an average of 73 percent of their heart rate max and 52 percent of their VO2 max, which falls into the moderate-intensity range. According to ACSM recommendations, training in this zone will improve cardiorespiratory endurance. The researchers also concluded that the workout could be beneficial for weight management and positively affect body composition.

Above and beyond the aerobic benefit, was the enjoyment factor. Participants moved through a fusion of the latest dance styles and hottest new sounds with the emphasis on letting loose and having fun. The dancers certainly worked up a sweat, but with so many feel-good vibes flying around they barely noticed!

Still not convinced dance is your thing?

Studies show we're born to dance. According to experts, babies are born with a predisposition to move rhythmically in response to music. In fact, babies engage more with the rhythm and tempo of music than they do with speech.

But if you didn't get hooked on dance as an infant, fear not, you haven’t missed the boat entirely. It’s easy to learn dance skills later in life. A good dance workout is designed to coach you through the moves. You’ll have plenty of time to get familiar with the steps and you can move at a pace that feels comfortable for you. Sooner or later you’ll find your rhythm, the endorphins will kick in and you’ll forget you were ever feeling apprehensive.

CHOOSE how you like to move

LES MILLS DANCE™ is a 45-minute high-energy workout that will challenge you and uplift you. Created by dancers, the coaching style is clear so you can enjoy the music and master the moves. You will feel the beat, work your body, elevate your heart rate, and boost endurance.

BODYJAM™ is a globally-renowned fusion of the latest music and freshest moves. Lose yourself as you move to House, Hip-hop, Drum ‘n’ Bass and Trap … electronic dance music is the soul of this dance experience.

LES MILLS BARRE™ is a modern version of classic ballet training that will shape and tone postural muscles, build core strength and leave you feeling beautifully strong.

SH’BAM™ is a fun and playful dance workout that features simple dance moves and a party playlist.

Find a BODYJAM or LES MILLS DANCE workout at a club near you, or explore dance workouts at home using LES MILLS+.


Don’t like the idea of dancing in front of others? Get a feel for the moves in the comfort of your own home. Try this low-impact dance workout on LES MILLS+.

Discover LES MILLS DANCE XR, an immersive experience where you use a Meta Quest 3 headset to surround yourself with vibrant dance energy. FIND OUT MORE