"Is dance really sport?" may well be the recurring debate between two camps arguing the pros and cons based on their personal perceptions. Ask any kinesiologist, an authority on how the human body moves anatomically and mechanically, and the answer will be in the affirmative. Unfailingly!
"Dancers are some of the toughest athletes in the world!"
Professor of Kinesiology,
Biological Sciences and Biomedical Engineering
University of South California
Through her study of performances by top-level dancers McNitt-Gray was able to quantify some impressive parameters. A couple doing the Jive can reach foot speeds of up to 24 km/h (15 miles per hour). For reference: Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt averaged 37 km/h (23 miles per hour) for his 19:19 world record over 200 metres. And no, Bolt didn't wear high heels! Plus: dancers are able to spin at a rate of 180 revolutions per minute. For all those remembering the 45 rpm vinyls spinning on their record player: that is four times faster!
Scientific research confirms that muscle exertion and breathing rates of top athletes performing two-minute routines in Latin or Standard dances equal those of elite runners over 800 metres. A tournament, going over several rounds of five dances each, requires multiple and high energy expenditure at aerobic and anaerobic levels, allowing dancers only minimal recovery periods in between.
Even if there is never any grunting and groaning as in some of the other athletic sports, dancers exert themselves physically. But as dancers are also challenged to look graceful and light as the proverbial feather at all times, this often tends to go unnoticed.
The body of competitive dancers reveals much about the sport's physically taxing nature too. Perfect muscle tone is the visible result of continuous isometric and isotonic exercise. The perfect posture, specifically trained and further enhanced by a strong bone structure (tibia, fibula and femur), make an athlete in DanceSport stand out in a crowd.
Choosing dance as a low-impact exercise regime to improve fitness is guaranteed to produce good results for people of all ages. In dance, hands, arms, legs, and head are continuously exerting forces in different directions - all at the same time. Dance can be one of the most complete cardiovascular and aerobic workouts. It is mentally engaging and physically demanding. And it is never dull, repetitive movement. Try it!