Dance yourself fit – and reduce your risk of developing cancer

A Jungle Body class

Whether you swap Zoom for Zumba or are a ballroom beginner, dance is a fun, social way of staying active – which is great for our minds and our bodies.

Does dance count as exercise? It most certainly does! Whether you’re a beginner making your first steps or an expert at swirling around a ballroom, dance is a great way to stay active. It increases your heart rate, helps you stay fit and can also strengthen your muscles.

Just 10 minutes of dancing will burn around 80 calories – more than 10 minutes of cycling, jogging, badminton and even basketball, according to our exercise calorie calculator.

And what better way to burn calories than while listening, and moving, to your favourite music? There are so many different dance classes to try these days. We’ve visited Jungle Body, Zumba, Barre and Clubbercise to let you know what it’s like and tempt you into giving a new style of dance a try.

SJ jived her heart out at Jungle Body

SJ Hill at a Jungle Body class, with trainer
Carlie, class leader, (L) and SJ in Chessington

Jungle Body is a movement to music class to help improve your physical and mental health. The company thrives on celebrating and empowering all body shapes, sizes and fitness levels. The classes are fun, easy to follow and give you the flexibility to perform at your own pace.

The first time I tried Jungle Body was at the LoveFit Festival in Sevenoaks – the instructors had such a positive vibe and the music was a good mix of R&B and dance. I had such a great time that I had to find a local class!

I joined a class in Surrey and really enjoyed it. Each track had different dance moves so lots to keep it interesting and the instructor was fun and energetic. I remember smiling throughout, and was left feeling energised and looking forward to the next time.

Jungle Body is fun and welcoming with a huge social element. With dimmed lights and flashing colours, you can literally dance like no one is watching.
SJ Hill is World Cancer Research Fund’s Fundraising Partnerships Manager

Raffaella swapped Zoom for Zumba

Raffaella MasselliZumba is a dance class that’s open to people of all skill levels. It doesn’t use weights or demanding exercises like jump squats or push-ups. Unlike some other cardio classes I’ve attended, you don’t have to be a certain level of fitness to start Zumba. Anyone can do it, no matter how fit they are.

A lot of inexpensive gyms offer Zumba classes; what makes a class motivating is all the people enjoying themselves. You’re led by a friendly instructor who is there to provide support and guidance. It’s also great because nobody judges you and everyone is there to have a good time. What’s even more enjoyable is bringing along a friend, both sharing the experience of a fun class and also some laughs. The class is filled with smiles and a great atmosphere.

Attending a Zumba improves my mood because I enjoy the music and I find it allows me to keep active on days when I lack the motivation to do a traditional strength or cardio workout.

You can also try an online Zumba class if you want to dance in the comfort of your own space. This can help you build up your confidence if attending a class full of people seems daunting.
Raffaella Masselli is World Cancer Research Fund’s Health Information Officer

Maz pirouetted her way into a barre class

This was my first time trying a Barre class and I absolutely loved it. I left the class feeling the burn but also very energised at the same time – even the day after, my muscles were still aching (in a good way!)

Barre is a fusion of ballet, yoga and pilates, and focuses on lower body and core. Moves range from pulsing movements in squat positions, to pliés to planks. I highly recommend this class if you’re looking to strengthen your core but also to feel amazing.

The class was quite small (around 10 people in total including the instructor), which I definitely prefer over a larger class, as I found it’s easier for the instructor to correct your form and to spot if you’re struggling at all. What I really liked is there were a few different variations for each move – so if you were slightly uncomfortable with one position, there were other options which is good especially if you’re a beginner like I am.

For anyone who may feel nervous to start a new class, I would suggest you feel the fear and go for it anyway – the worst thing that can happen is that you don’t enjoy the class, but you never know, you may end up loving it like I did and find your new niche.
Marianne Kellner is World Cancer Research Fund’s Media and PR Officer

Diana craved a go at Clubbercise

Diana MackieI first gave Clubbercise a go during lockdown having heard about it on Facebook. My glow sticks were delivered to my front door and I logged on to a Zoom class which had lots of routines choreographed to tracks I remember from the 80s and 90s. It definitely helped me to feel more invigorated during a difficult time, and I was put at ease by the friendly instructor. I’m not very well coordinated however even I could follow the dance steps.

Fast forward to 2023 and I tried my local Clubbercise class – this time in person – with a friendly instructor called Tay. The lights in the community centre were down low so I felt a lot like I was transported back to my college clubbing days. We were a class of women of different ages, shapes and sizes, and we were taught a range of easy-to-follow moves. It was really easy to build up a sweat in what felt like a supportive and fun environment.
Diana Mackie is World Cancer Research Fund’s Head of Communications

Cancer Prevention Action Week

If you’re inspired to dance yourself fit, you could also try pole fitness, silent disco, raver tots, ballroom, bollywood dance, greek dancing and much more!

Our evidence shows that physical activity reduces our risk of colon cancer, endometrial cancer and post-menopausal breast cancer. It can also help you stay a healthy weight. But it’s not just cancer; physical activity has been linked to lower risk of many health problems including cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, poor bone health and depression.

Cancer Prevention Action Week is our annual campaign focusing on ways you can make a difference and reduce your cancer risk, as well as helping your friends and family too.

This February you can look forward to surprising, new and unexpected ways to be more active in your daily life. Whatever you do now, you’ll be doing more by the end of February if you take part!

So sign up to our e-newsletter to stay informed in the lead-up to Cancer Prevention Action Week 2024, and if you’ve been inspired to try a dance class, let us know!