To find out, we gave the men a series of tests to determine their aerobic capacity and the number of calories they burned in their dancing. We then ran a bunch of tests of their muscle strength and endurance.
To determine their aerobic ability, each man was required to dance and walk at the same time while keeping the exact timing the same to replicate the exercise he would do on court.
We found that women actually had a bigger aerobic capacity than men in all of our tests – but men burned more calories just dancing than walking and they couldn’t keep that pace up.
So what explains this? According to the authors, the reason for the difference is that men can only dance a certain amount. Women can move at more than twice that level.
How do they explain the extra calorie burned during dancing? They looked a bit deeper into the science, comparing men and women with a variety of exercise.
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Getty Images/Bobby Yip
One group played a version of the same exercise as if they were on the court. Another was simply running. They gave each group three trials, and then let them choose from three different speed trials and two different recovery trials.
The participants who could dance fast and recover quickly chose the second recovery trial quicker.
It turns out the key factor is that men only have one set of feet when they dance. Women have two.
What does this mean for us? For one, remember that your aerobic capacity depends on how you move and the number of muscles you have in place. If you have to move the way a ballet dancer does, you might have a hard time keeping pace.
The more muscles you have, the less efficient your aerobic capacity.
Getty Images/Bobby Yip
This is why it’s so important for women to stay mobile and active while exercising. Dancing can burn more calories than walking around the neighborhood, but once you reach your physical limit, you’re only burning about 100 calories per hour of dance (on the high side, as dancing burns significantly more calories while you’re doing it).
It’s important to remember that one set of feet doesn’t equal a two-legged set. If you’re looking to improve, dance around the block and avoid heavy weights (it’s really not that much of a workout). Remember that you can also take a break from all that dance to run, swim, and/or bike and still gain more physical fitness
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