How to double your workout in half the time? Just dance!

In the 1950s it was discovered that physical health directly linked to exercise (or lack of it). As this era focused on ‘efficiency’ (think ‘Speedee Service System’ of MacDonald’s), structured exercise started out as a ‘must do’ rather than a ‘joy to’.  For decades governments have promoted the benefits of a weekly exercise regime to help curb the rising health problems of society. However, as our technology gets more sophisticated to make our lives easier, the less time we have to exercise.

Below are five proactive ways you can increase your fitness and exercise without increasing workout time.

An Active Lifestyle

Today it is thought that for good physical health an adult needs to work out for 30-45mins, three times a week, with weights and cardio activity. Alas, lifestyle physical activity, recreational fitness, unorganised activity, whatever you like to call it, has been undermined as valuable daily exercise. The health benefits of an active day can improve physical fitness just as much as a structured 60min exercise program.

You can actually get as much benefit from daily activity as you can by going to a gym — and maybe more,‘ says Barry A. Franklin, PhD, national spokesman for the American Heart Association.

What’s more, an active lifestyle will actually enhance a structured exercise program – the more your body is active throughout the day, the easier it is to increase activity in a workout.

Franklin says ‘A body at rest tends to remain at rest; a body in motion tends to remain in motion. So the more you move in any given time period, the easier it becomes to keep moving’.

So, to help decrease your workout time and increase your structured exercise intensity, keep your body moving throughout the day.

Rhythm and Movement Variation

One of the reasons a gym workout can frustrate the development of physical health is because of its limited activity.

The whole gym environment, especially if it’s machine-based, focuses on very fixed, linear-path movements, but the body doesn’t really work that way in real life,’ says physical trainer Dino Novak, ACES, ACSM.

When the body becomes used to a set rhythm or routine, the easier the activity becomes and the less effective on the body. For the body to use more energy it needs to be forced into unfamiliar rhythms and varying movements. To maximise the benefits of your workout you need to vary your activities constantly.

Colette Bouchez WebMD says:
‘Too often, we get stuck in the rut of doing the same exercise over and over — be it running on a treadmill, doing circuit training or riding a bike. Yet mastering a single workout isn’t necessarily the way to increase fitness. In fact, it might even set you back’.

For greater fitness your body needs unexpected exercise.  To help increase the benefits of your workout time, choose activities that make you change direction – stop, twist, turn, jump, lower and start.  Vary activities regularly – low impact, endurance, cardio, strength, toning, flexibility, limbering and relaxation.

Increase Intensity

It is well known that the less intense a workout the longer it needs to be to get the same benefits of a high intensity fitness program. So to increase fitness without increasing workout time, it is obvious that an increase in intensity is needed.

Bouchez says:
The general rule of thumb: The more vigorous the activity, the less time you need to do it to get optimum results. And the more leisurely your activity, the longer your exercise session should be.

According to Choose To Move, spending 15 minutes climbing stairs, jumping rope, or sprinting a mile will give you results equal to that of playing volleyball or touch football for 45 minutes, walking 1 3/4 mile in 35 minutes, or dancing fast for 30 minutes. And you’ll get the same result from bicycling 4 miles in 15 minutes as from mowing the lawn for 45 minutes.

So, increasing the intensity of your workout will help increase fitness without increasing workout time.


Focusing on your physical activity will increase exercise benefits. Thinking about your movements, thinking about your pace etc help to perfect technique and effectiveness. Reading while on a treadmill or watching TV will distract and lower exercise intensity.

So, to decrease your workout time you can increase your workout intensity by doing activities that need concentration.

No Rest for the Fit

A good nights sleep is vital for an active body. However, decreasing your rest between exercise will increase fitness without increasing workout time.

If you don’t give your body a chance to recover between exercises, it must get in better condition in order to repair itself for the next bout of activity — so you’re automatically getting more out of each workout,” says fitness expert John Ellis Spencer.

So, reducing rest periods will teach the body to recover quicker, therefore increasing fitness without increasing workout time.

And the best activity that will help you increase your fitness without increasing your workout time is… DANCE!

Dance activities are a great way to increase physical activity through lifestyle. Dance is a social activity; it benefits the community and is a performance art.  It is also a structured learning program – exercise for the mind too!

Dance activities are fantastic for varying rhythm and routine. Direction, pace, flexibility, isolation, and unfamiliar movements are all a part of dance practise. In fact, every three minutes, when a new song comes on, all the variables change!

Dance enables activity to be at varying intensities for all fitness levels. When more intensity is needed, faster music can be played with more vigourous dance movements.

Dance exercises the body as well as the mind. Thinking of movement, communicating with your partner through lead/follow and navigating the floor requires an active mind.

Dance is an excellent place to increase fitness through reducing rest periods. In social dance or dance workouts, music is played consecutively enabling you to decrease your rest periods until you can dance continuously for 30mins+ straight.

So, what are you waiting for – get an active lifestyle, change your rhythms, increase intensity, focus and reduce your rests without increasing your workout time – JUST DANCE!

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