The majority of youth are not meeting the US Department of Health and Human Services physical activity guidelines. Dance is a popular activity, particularly for girls, and has the potential to increase physical activity for many youth. This study investigated physical activity of children and adolescents in 7 dance types: ballet, hip-hop, jazz, Latin-flamenco, Latin-salsa/ballet folklorico, partnered, and tap.


Data were collected in 17 private studios and 4 community centers in San Diego, California. A total of 264 girls from 66 classes participated (n =154 children; n = 110 adolescents). Physical activity was measured with accelerometers, and activity levels during class were calculated.


Participants recorded an average of 17.2 ± 8.9 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (36% of class), but this varied by age and dance type. For children, dance type differences were observed with percent of class in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity ranging from 13.6% (Latin-flamenco) to 57% (hip-hop). For adolescents, there were no differences across dance types. Children were more active than adolescents in all types except ballet. Children and adolescents were more active in private compared with community center classes.


Overall, physical activity in youth dance classes was low; 8% of children and 6% of adolescents met the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 30-minute guideline for after-school physical activity during dance. To increase physical activity in dance classes, teaching methods could be employed to increase activity in all types, or emphasis could be placed on greater participation in more active dance types.

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