Harvard Heart Letter

Dance your way to better heart health?

Research we're watching

dancing heart health

A regular whirl on the dance floor may lower your odds of dying from heart disease, a new study suggests.

The study included 48,000 people in the United Kingdom who answered questions about their dancing and walking habits over the past month. All were 40 years and older with no history of heart disease and agreed to be linked to the National Death Registry.

After an average follow-up of nearly 10 years, researchers found that moderate-intensity dancing was linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular death. This benefit was slightly better than that seen with walking, and possibly stronger in women than men.

The findings don't prove that dancing led to lower mortality, and long-time dancers may be healthier to begin with. Still, dancing may offer brief bouts of higher-intensity exercise, as well as stress-relieving social connections, say the authors, whose findings appeared in the June 2016 American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Dance studios and many senior or community centers offer dance lessons. There are many different styles (many of which don't require a partner), including ballroom, tap, ballet, folk, country, and contra dancing.