So you want to get in shape, but the idea of working out in a sweaty old gym doesn’t really appeal. Shared showers and creepy dudes watching you while you work out? Uh, no thank you. Well, what if you could lose weight by dancing the night away? Say hello to Just Dance — the video game that turns exercise into a dance party.
Can Just Dance support weight loss?
It sure can. Boogieing on down with Just Dance can get your heart rate up and help you burn calories.
As a general rule, if you maintain a calorie deficit — burning off more calories than you consume — you will lose weight. But if you really want to hit those weight loss goals, you’ll also need to watch what you eat. It’s unlikely that exercise will do enough of the heavy lifting (pun intended) on its own.
Using Just Dance regularly can also contribute to your overall physical and mental well-being.
Getting more than 150-minutes of physical activity per week (as recommended by The World Health Organization) is important for your health.
So strap up your leotard, pull up those ankle warmers, and getto steppin’. 💃
But can you really lose weight from playing a video game? Let’s take a look.
Just Dance is a video game created by Ubisoft that’s available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, and Xbox consoles. You pick a song and mimic the dance moves shown on screen, getting scored for how well you can bust a groove. It’s basically a dance mat game without a dance mat.
There are a ton of different songs to choose from, including big hits from Harry Styles, Billie Eilish, and Lady Gaga. (No “Baby Shark” unfortunately, but there’s no accounting for taste.)
Some systems require you to have a motion sensor or camera for the game to work. They track your movements to work out if you’re a dancing queen or a dancing dunce.
You can also sign up for Just Dance Unlimited. It’s a subscription service that gives you access to even more hits and lets you use your phone to track your movements. Can’t say fairer than that, really.
Exergames have been a thing since the release of the Nintendo Wii way back in the mid-noughties. But can they actually help you lose weight?
One study from 2012 measured energy expended while playing exercise games, including an earlier edition of Just Dance.
It showed that the average heart rate produced from using these video games was enough to qualify as moderate-intensity exercise. (Although Just Dance had the lowest energy expenditure of the lot, so you may want to ramp up the intensity to get the best results.)
All forms of dancing can help you lose weight. Any activity that gets your heart rate up and makes you sweat can help you burn calories, and Just Dance is no exception.
As a rough estimate, if you weigh 180 pounds and get down with some fast ballet or twist dancing for 30 minutes, you could burn around 251 calories.
Diet is important too, of course. You can’t just eat loads of junk food and expect to magically lose weight from 30-mins of dancing.
It’s all about creating a calorie deficit. Burning off more calories than you consume will help you lose weight. That’s math for you.
But, ultimately, exercise should be something fun that you feel great about working into your schedule. That way, you’ll be much more likely to keep it up. It’s the consistency that’s important.
What about “Sweat Mode”?
You can activate Sweat Mode at the push of a button. It shows you how intense your routine is and how many calories you’re burning as you boogie.
The calorie counter won’t be super accurate, as the number of calories you burn depends on your height, weight, and a bunch of other stuff. But it’s still a pretty good indicator.
It also shows you how long the mode has been activated. So if you have a set time for your cardio workout, you can easily keep track.
You’re juggling work, family, and a social life… so how the heck are you supposed to find time for exercise? Let alone funky exercise?
The best thing about Just Dance is that you can dance the night (or day) away in the comfort of your own home. Great if you’re not into the hustle and bustle of the gym. (Or perhaps you don’t quite feel comfortable dancing like no one’s watching.)
For substantial health benefits, The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that you do at least the following each week:
- 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity
- or at least 75–150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity
- or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous-intensity activity throughout the week
Even just 20 minutes of cutting some shapes on Just Dance can help you reach your total. It’s all about making it work with your schedule.
Dancing is even more fun when you’re with your friends. So why not invite them over for a dance party or connect with them online? Exercising doesn’t have to be boring you know.
You can easily build your own 30-minute exercise routine on Just Dance. It just depends on your fitness goals. If you’re just starting out, you might want to focus on less intense routines for a shorter period of time. Just until you get your stamina up.
But you can also switch up your HIT routine with a Just Dance sesh to make it more fun.
Light, moderate, and intense tunes
With “Sweat Mode” engaged, you can look at the indicator next to the title of the song to see how intense it is. But you’ll need to try out a few different routines to see what works for you.
These are some of our favorite intense songs to really get the blood pumping:
- “Juice” by Lizzo
- “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins
- “I Don’t Feel Like Dancing” by Scissor Sisters
- “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen
- “Break Free” by Ariana Grande
For a proper noughties throw-back, you can always slap on “Gangnam Style” by Psy 5 times. It’s the ultimate one-hit-wonder.
A suggested workout for mixing it up
Want to mix up your daily workout or HIIT routine? Just Dance can pack a punch of power pop. Here’s a sample 25 to 30 minute workout routine that you can try out at home:
- Stretch it out. A little pre-dance stretching warm-up.
- Warming-up. 5-minutes (1–2 tracks) on the lowest intensity
- Getting pumped. 10-minutes (3–4 tracks) on medium intensity
- Dancing fever. 10-minutes (3–4 tracks) on high-intensity (check out the list above for some inspo)
- Winding down: 5-minutes (1–2 tracks) on the lowest intensity, and a post-boogie stretch
Safety Dance: Staying safe while playing Just Dance
With any form of dancing, there are some basic safety precautions to help you avoid injury. Here are a few tips for staying safe while burning up the dance floor (in your living room):
- Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing.
- Avoid sandals or flip-flops.
- Keep your dance floor free of hazards, like kid toys, furniture, or loose rugs.
- Stay hydrated by keeping a water bottle close to hand.
- Remember to warm up AND cool down.
- Take it easy if you’re a beginner and don’t overdo it. You’ll be giving Beyoncé a run for her money in no time if you stick with it.
- Stop and take a break if you’re feeling light-headed.
- Speak with your doctor before going all-out at Just Dance if you have a recent injury or underlying condition.
It should come as no surprise that keeping active is good for your physical and mental health.
In a review from 2019 that looked at the impact of exercise training on heart disease, there was a strong link between exercise and a reduction in heart disease-related mortality. According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, even 5-minutes of physical activity provides real health benefits.
So whether it’s dancing, running, or walking, that little bit of physical activity will do you some good.
But what about strength training, you say? Well, that’s important too. But when it comes to weight management, cardio is where it’s at.
A 2012 study from Duke University and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) compared three different groups of overweight adults who used cardio, strength training, or a mix of both, to lose weight.
It found that cardio helped participants lose weight much better than strength training. A cardio-strength training combo also showed similar results to cardio but took twice as long to complete.
Dancing along to your favorite song on Just Dance can make weight management super fun. There are plenty of bangers to choose from and different intensities to suit your level of fitness.
You can even rope in your friends for extra lols. Or, get the kids involved for a dope activity that the whole family can enjoy.
Along with a balanced diet, it can help you hit your weight loss goals. So put on those dancing shoes and strut your stuff. Your body will thank you. 💃🕺