When we set out to lose weight, we all go through common stressful moments. Many of us have had moments where we thought, “Oof, I have to restrain myself from eating my favorite foods again!” Or perhaps there was that day that where you just didn’t feel like going to the gym. Even worse, some of us can feel cranky from all the dietary restrictions and muscle aches. Oftentimes we experience a stronger than usual sense of stress while we’re trying to reach our goal. Did you know that dance is one of the most effective methods for weight loss with a multitude of benefits?

Stress has a big influence on a person’s weight loss journey and it’s important to control as much as diet and exercise. In this post, we will focus on dancing as a way of exercise to have fun and relieve stress.

Stress: The Enemy of Weight Loss

A healthy diet for weight loss
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We secrete a hormone called “Cortisol” when we feel stressed. The higher cortisol levels there are, the more visceral fat we store in our bodies. Higher cortisol also decreases the amount of growth hormone in our bodies, makes it hard to build muscles, lowers the metabolism, which overall creates difficulty to lose weight.

At the same time, stress makes us want to indulge in bad habits such as overeating, smoking, binge drinking, and staying up late. Stress is a big factor in whether or not we can succeed in achieving our weight loss goals.

Effective Stress-Relief Activities

The following activities are known to help with stress:

  • Spend time to relax
  • Laugh from your heart
  • Get quality sleep
  • Concentrate on an activity
  • Get adequate exercise

When we carry stress our hearts are being weighed down. Every person has a different level of stress resilience and there’s no one answer in how to resolve it. What’s most important is that we have ways to keep our distance from our stress source.

Dancing is gaining attention as it checks off many of the points above.

The Benefits of Dance for Weight Loss

A group of dancers in a studio
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There are many types of dancing from competitive dancing to casual fun dances for weight loss. The dances we will mention here are anything short enough to practice within 5-10 minutes.

The following are the benefits we gain from dancing:

A Stress Reliever

A group of people dancing and socializing outdoors
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According to studies of dance movement therapy, participating in expressive and communicative body movements with others creates a sense of safety and stress relief. By letting go of stress, our mental capacity becomes better prepped for taking on the challenges of a weight loss journey.

A Fun and Painless Way to Exercise

There is a unit called “MET” that measures exercise intensity based on our oxygen consumption. Our inactive resting state is measured at 1 MET and we can measure our activity intensity by MET units to figure out a metabolic rate.

For example, jogging is 7 METs, tennis is 6 METs. Every activity has a MET measurement. The higher the MET is, the more calories are burned in the same amount of time spent on it.

Dancing, which can be categorized as aerobic exercise, is about 8 METs. This is a higher MET than jogging. If the usual exercise of weight lifting and running seems stressful, dancing could be a great way to exercise in a fun and painless way.

dancing and enjoying music at a festival
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Infinite Variations to Try

When we’re trying to lose weight, oftentimes our diet and exercise can become repetitive and mundane. That alone can be a cause of stress. However, dancing is a great way to switch up your mood!

To dance, we need music, and this can easily bring our mood to a high. What makes dancing unique is its variety in the types of dance movements. From hip-hop, ballet, jazz, salsa, ballroom, dubstep, or just freely dancing however you feel, dance has so many means of expression. This also why Zumba has gained popularity as an exercise.

If repeating the same kind of dance bores you to the point of stress, there’s no need to continue. You can always try different styles of movements to keep things interesting.

A pair working on their latin dance moves
Image: Unsplash

Dance for Stress Relief and Weight Loss

Weight loss exercises are only effective when we continue them, but it can also become painful and stressful to do the same movements every day. Stress is the enemy in achieving weight loss goals.

Therefore, dancing is an excellent way to relieve stress, get exercise, and refresh our mood. We hope you find a fun dance to incorporate as part of your exercise routine so that you can combat stress while trying to lose weight.

A couple dancing in the woods
Image: Unsplash

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If you’re looking for more tips on how to care for your mental health, check out some of our past blog posts!

Clements, A. (2020, August 12). How Laughter Can Relieve Stress + Ideas to Laugh it Off. University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences. https://www.usa.edu/blog/how-laughter-can-relieve-stress/

Jeong, Y. J., Hong, S. C., Lee, M. S., Park, M. C., Kim, Y. K., & Suh, C. M. (2005). Dance Movement Therapy Improves Emotinal Responses and Modulates Neurohormones in Adolescents with Mild Depression. International Journal of Neuroscience115(12), 1711–1720. https://doi.org/10.1080/00207450590958574

Koch, S. C., Riege, R. F. F., Tisborn, K., Biondo, J., Martin, L., & Beelmann, A. (2019). Effects of Dance Movement Therapy and Dance on Health-Related Psychological Outcomes. A Meta-Analysis Update. Frontiers in Psychology10, NA. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01806

Miyachi, M. (2019). Physical activity, METs, and energy expenditure. Nippon Shokuhin Kagaku Kogaku Kaishi66(2), 57. https://doi.org/10.3136/nskkk.66.57

Physical Activity Guidelines Resources. (2020). American College of Sports Medicine. https://www.acsm.org/read-research/trending-topics-resource-pages/physical-activity-guidelines

Tamashiro, K. L. K. (2011). Metabolic syndrome: links to social stress and socioeconomic status. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences1231(1), 46–55. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1749-6632.2011.06134.x

Tsujimoto, H., Yamada, K., & Morioka, I. (2013). Experience of Weight Loss and Its Related Factors of Thin Females Who Still Wished to Lose Weight among Junior High School Students. Nippon Eiseigaku Zasshi (Japanese Journal of Hygiene)68(3), 197–206. https://doi.org/10.1265/jjh.68.197

About the Author


As a writer, worked on many medical-related articles based on academic papers. Specializes in articles on mental health and stress care.

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