Ask Laura: DDR and Weight Loss

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

Email from radman:

My question relates to different types of exercise. I have never been able to keep up exercise… but I have been using DDR and have been able to keep it up for a year.

I currently do DDR 3X a week at heavy level. It seems like it is a good workout for my lower body but, even though I get out of breath during each song, there is about 20 seconds between songs and the overall intensity just isn’t there. It says I have done 10 miles…but I am not near as fatigued/winded as if I jogged 10 miles… or even did 20 min on a treadmill(which I can’t stand doing). I love the DDR and am spending lots of time at it at a high level, but I haven’t really lost any weight and wonder if it is having an effect aside from lower body muscle toning… I have been going to the gym 2-3x a week and doing strength exercises for upper body and have enjoyed that. I was thinking of using the Yourself fitness to get more consistent aerobic exercise to lose some pounds (which I haven’t done with DDR). What are your thoughts on this? How would you integrate these different things (or would you?)


You’re right. You’ve realized the limitations of DDR. In the end, it’s just a game. It’s an easy and fun way to get a little exercise in your day while having fun. If you are really serious about exercise, there are more efficient routines that work more of your muscles more intensely than DDR.

You’re also right about the exercise estimates. The calorie counters and the exercise comparisons are optimistic at best and misleading at worst. I wouldn’t believe either when evaluating how much exercise you’ve gotten from your session.

Yourself! Fitness is another exercise routine, but it’s more like a workout video than a game. It only took me a few weeks to earn all the perks of the game and I found some of the moves repetitive. There are as many different useful exercises as there are people in the world. You are at an exciting time right now. You get to explore them! The cool thing is that a lot of them (like running and walking and playing in the park) are free. Check out About.com’s Workout Center for some ideas. Find something you love and stick to it.

Now, about your weight loss. If you haven’t lost any weight from the exercise, you have run into one of the unalterable physics of the human body. Exercise alone won’t bring you significant weight loss. You need to exercise AND monitor your eating. I wouldn’t recommend cutting your calories drastically, however.

Start with slow, healthy changes to your diet. Add fruits and vegetables to your diet until you are easily (and comfortably) eating five servings a day. Make sure you have low-fat protein in your diet, whether it comes from meat, beans, or dairy. Drink at least five glasses of water a day. Make sure that you don’t allow yourself to get too hungry (I eat every three to four hours) to prevent binges.

These are the diet changes that have really helped me. If you want more ideas, check out Prevention.com’s Eat More, Lose More eating plan. If you want a more formal diet regime or you have serious problems with bingeing (eating until you feel too full more than twice a week), then I would recommend Weight Watchers.

Remember, I’m not a doctor, so make sure that everything you do is cleared through your general practitioner.

Good Luck!
Laura Moncur


24 Responses to “Ask Laura: DDR and Weight Loss”

  1. blitzvvolf Says:

    Well gee, that’s all fine and good, but it doesn’t address the issues about DDR. Normally the games have a mode called “endless” where you can play on a level (standard/heavy/etc) for as long as you can stand it with few to no breaks. I just got done with a 50 minute session and I feel great.

    Also as far as not losing weight, radman already said it: upper AND lower body weight training will gain you muscle, and often offset the weight lost from fat (at least at first). The real question is, are your clothes fitting less snugly than before?

    DDR is a great way to lose weight, because it’s not JUST for weight loss. It keeps your mind off the work, and on the fun of shaking your booty. It also can be a heck of a lot cheaper than a gym membership. Add some free weights and a bench, and you can just do all your work at home!

  2. nikiangl Says:

    I have been playing DDR for about 5 months now, and i have lost 22 pounds, and 7 pant sizes. DDR worked just fine for me. All that I had to do was make a few healthy changes to my diet and play DDR at least every other day. I’ve tried losing weight by using various excercise programs, and I would only be able to keep them up for a few weeks before I got too bored with them and lost my passion for wanting to lose more weight. DDR has kept me interested for 5 months, and I still enjoy my workout. It works because it’s fun.

  3. kelsie Says:

    i am 22 5’0 was 185 now 160and i love ddr i have lost 25 pound’s in 2 months i do it 5 days a week no sweets no sodas just water ,soup’s and cereal’s and fruit,vegi’s i try to do 5 miles every day on my ddr if i miss a day i take a weekend day to replace it or i’ll do 10 miles in a day on begginer level i keep a planner if i did my ddr i write ddr on every wednesday i weight my self ask my self why some time its goes up and down than i say im only human i need a coke or hehe bigmac once a month i’ll be bad and eat bad than i weight my self i get sad than i cheer up than i ddr # 1 thing it helps to have someone to tell you look act and feel better about yourself and you can ask yourself that i found out the better i eat the more happy i am now when i eat bad i feel like bloted blowfish yuukkke i no my ddr is working its i that messed up! sometime’s i thought i would never lose any weight i did diets diet pills that made me sick and speeded my heart and i told my self im going to lose weight im so sad all the time yes i no 25 pound isnt a lot but it shows me i can be who i once was 5’0 100 5 years ago than my world ended as i thought my man left me for a plump girl i was shocked i guess i was to skinny so i got sad i guess skinny isnt all was great my goal is to be 125 not to skinny in fat healthy and happy for me ;} 40 pounds to go someone once told me you have to tell your self you want it and it will hurt but the pain will turn the fat in muscles and if your not sore its not enough haha thanx for reading you can email me if you have a q??????? if its to be mean thanx but no thanx

  4. Shaw Says:

    hey you guys! i really need your help!

    okay so last year i used to play DDR everyday! and then i had chickenpox so i stoped for a week then it became 2 then 3! when my chicken pox was all gone i kinda got lazy and didnt play ddr, i gained so much weight! so now im starting to DDR again.

    now, is it normal to get sore on the leg? like it gets sore/tiredish/and “tight” and i get kind os tired and rest and get back to DDR and my legs arnt tired then it gets tired again in like 30 seconds! is this normal? does this means its getting stronger? please help! bye! &congrats to you guys for losing weight!!

  5. anony Says:

    Shaw, this is completely normal, stretch a bit after your first few songs to help ease it, and drink more water.

  6. Andrew Says:

    Wow guys, all of your success stories are inspirational! I am going to start the DDR diet tomorrow! Ohh, and this is a scientific fact, it is better to do exercise in the morning BEFORE you eat anything! I’m not 100% sure as to the exact reason, all I know is.. It’s better for your metabolism, and you burn more fat!! Thanks for the motivation guys!

  7. Michelle Says:

    Yeah, I’m going to get the DDR game for Wii when it comes out September 25th.

  8. Leigh Says:

    I don’t really know much about DDR, in fact I just started playing about 2 weeks ago. I borrowed the game, the pad, even the PS2 all from a friend and thought I’d just try it out and see if I saw any weight loss results. I typically eat very healthy, but lately have had a real problem getting to the gym, so I thought this might be a fun solution… even if it was only for a little while. So far i haven’t seen any results… bu thenagain, it’s only been 2 weeks. I’m wondering though… how long/often do I need to play. Right now I only play for 30 mins five times a week. And i HAVE noticed that there’s a lot of resting built in between songs. I haven’t seen this endless mode yet, but now that I know it’s there I’ll be sure to look for it. Right now i mostly stay in training mode. Any hints as to how long I should play or if I should switch to a different mode??

  9. Teh Says:

    Leigh, You have to play for a while to unlock more songs. Endless mode is in the options. Also, as you get better try standard and heavy modes to increase the workout. I play an hour a day and lost 10 pounds in less than 2 months. I have asthma and that improved, as well. When I saw my allergist for a check up, my breathing volume had improved and I need much less medication than before. Good luck to you!

  10. Teh Says:

    P.S. Continue to build up gradually…it took me a while to play for a full hour. ^_^

  11. wendy Says:

    i lost 2lbs this week by playing ddr basic/heavy mode and also eat healthily. I still eat my favorite foods, can’t resist the temptation :p but in small portions. You can’t lose more than 2lbs in a week. I play ddr 1-2 hours everyday. I’ve gone from obese to slightly overweight and I wanna reach my goal to my ideal weight! You won’t expect to lose a lot of weight in the first two weeks. You also need to do some outdoor activities. I jog around my house area and also ride the bike. And drink PLENTY of water. I drink 2 liters a day. Oh, and if there’s no change on your scale, then get the measuring tape and record it every week and see if there’s any changes. If it doesn’t work then probably it’s the food you consumed. Good luck all 🙂

  12. Kyle Says:

    Just to show how well the DDR scenario works for me, I’ll “paint” you all a picture. I was 185 pounds, 5’7, and 15 years old. I broke my arm, and the doctor said no heavy exercise until i was fully healed. Well, i was big back then, so there was no way I was going to exercise anyway. I saw people free-styling DDR Extreme in an arcade, and was pumped to try it out. So i started on beginner with a cast and sling…and within 3 months I had learned Heavy mode. I played 3 times a week, anywhere from 1 to 2 hours a day, and ended up losing 20 pounds my first year without any eating habit changes. I then decided DDR was too easy and learned of In The Groove. Same four arrows, just a different company. These songs had EXPERT level that, unlike DDR’s max skill of 10, had a max level of 13. I have been playin Expert for 4 years now and have lost well over 50 pounds of fat and gained about 10 pounds of muscle. It works great for weightloss and a cardiovascular endurance strengthener. I went from a 10 and a half minute mile time, to a 5 and a half in my 2nd year. If all else fails, try this…you won’t be sorry

  13. annie Says:

    cool am gettin ddr by mail today for sureee! i cant wait to start i tried it 2 yrs ago but never had one i got the cheap one but same thing i dnt hav a wii so am pluggin into my tv and playing it nonstop!!! i cant wait to start losing weight…!!!!!!

  14. Bry Says:

    hey guys well i just want to let you know if you want to lose weight faster try playing ddr 2 i play an hour in the morning (im not a morning person)eat a bowl of oatmeal and put some fruit in it like blueberries or strawberries and bananas use some sweet n low if you like it sweet after your ddr session then eat in three hours like a curves granola bar .. eat a healthy lunch drink alot of water then eat another small snack in another four hours drink more water then play ddr before your dinner i play any were from an hour and a half to two and a half hours depends on my day at work lol and im losing weight and tightening my body so fast its ridiculous and i have a thyroid condition which makes it alot harder to lose weight..its all on the amount you play try to play and burn like five hundred calories or something a day and youll literally melt away iv lost over a 100 lbs and iv got like 30 more before im at my target im so happy cuz i know i can loose that within two months good luck

  15. Katarina Says:

    I just started using a DDR spin-off called Step Mania and I love it. It has all the advantages of DDR and In the Groove. It’s also free, and the user community is constantly creating new song levels. Slightly less straightforward than DDR in its setup, I would recommend this for those with a little bit of computer savvy and a little less of a budget:


    The program is available in the “Downloads” section of the page. You’ll still need to buy a dance pad, but if you go to any GameStop they should be able to hook you up with a cheap one (along with a USB converter). If you need help, the webpage has a Frequently Asked Questions section.

    Good luck!

  16. John G Says:

    It seems that this threat is long done but let me add to it anyways. My insight of DDR and ITG(In The Groove).

    I used to play DDR like an addict. Playing basic and standard was a good exercise, but wait til u get to Heavy or Expert mode. Thats where the heart of the game is and where you will burn the most fat from. I used to be really active. Played Tennis and DDR Daily. Before it all, I was 190lbs. After that summer, I was 160lbs. Mind you, I was eating anything I like. I didn’t change my diet, my body did. I thought, “I could eat anything!”, until winter hit and I was barely doing any exercise. Thats when I started noticing my shirts getting tighter. By spring, I grew…. not back to 190lbs, but to 205lbs.

    I guess it goes to show that without hard work, nothing will happen. Especially if you think ur “invincible”. Exercise AND Eat Healthy.

  17. lydialoveless Says:

    I just love ddr I been playing for about 3 mo and with the help from my doctor weight loss clinic I lost 30pds I would play for about 2 hours and run in the park for about 30 min but yeah ddr does help

  18. Syn Says:

    This is old but to add to everyone else’s reviews. I’m not sure why the lady gave them person with the ddr advice such bad advice. DDR is fantastic. I myself lost 50 pounds in 8 months. I then quit smoking and stopped exercising and gained it back but that wasn’t DDR’s fault.

    I just started again this week. I’m pretty confident I’ll lose it where as before I had a terrible time losing weight because normal exercise bored me. DDR grows with you, unless your some kind of athletic person who runs 10 miles a day I think for the average person DDR would do them just fine.

  19. Deeb Says:

    I just love this DDR2 game for the Wii! I’ve lost 7 pounds in 7 weeks. I play about 30-45 minutes a day. I can only do Basic or Beginner right now, but I’ll be moving up shortly. This is a great way to get in some daily exercise while having fun. I would recommend it to anyone who is bored with the same old routine. I don’t like to walk… I don’t like to get on a boring treadmill. Going to the gym takes time. Putting on some socks at home here and doing DDR is easy and fun.

  20. Suechan Says:

    DDR is a GREAT way to exercise without having to change your life around. You don’t have to join a gym where the fees are high and the looks of other people can make you uncomfortable. It’s in the privacy of your own home at your own pace, and weather doesn’t affect playability.

    I used to play DDR Max 2 every day for 15 songs in a row (endless mode) before breakfast. I started at beginner mode when I first got the game and worked my way up to Light mode and still managed to lose 8 lbs on that alone. 3 years ago, we got a dog and walking him took place of the morning DDR routine. Although it’s equivalent in maintaining weight, I’m going to add DDR to my evening routine again to double it.

    Like any exercise routine, you get out of it what you put in. If you work harder and faster and longer, you’ll burn more! It’s not the perfect, well balanced muscle builder, but it does indeed increase your heart rate and metabolism. And being fun is WAY more of a perk! It feels so good to hear the applause and see the scores increase, then feel the sweat and tight muscles afterwards. 2 kinds of rewards.

  21. Leighton Says:

    I absolutely believe DDR is a great way to lose weight. I remember when I was 230 pounds and 4’11”. I was horrified with my weight. Now, I may have been a bit excessive, playing nearly 5 hours every day, but I lost nearly 70 pounds in 3 months. This makes sense considering DDR’s calorie burn and a pound being roughly 3,500 calories.

    I have been playing DDR for nearly 3 years and have made it a lifestyle; investing in metal arcade mats with bars and playing a lot. Even advancing far beyond the original songs that the games include (I have to get or make custom songs that are harder than any existing song included with the games; considering the games go to 10 “feet” per second max and I can now do 12-13 “feet” on a custom made song). I am in fact attempting the world record this summer (No joke that this is a big deal to me!). The point is, with enough practice and determination, as well as a healthy diet (I eat a few bananas and apples a day, with 3 glasses of low fat milk, lean meats and nuts for protein, some vegetables, and more water than probably should be drunk in small helpings frequently throughout the day) anyone can lose weight with DDR.

  22. Julie Says:

    I love DDR! I started playing it in highschool and in 3 months I was able to loose 30 pounds! DDR is one of easiest ways to loose weight in my opinion because when you play it you don’t even think about how much your burning…I know I didn’t I just wanted to get better at playing it. The result? I lost 30 pounds and was just in better shape then I have ever been

  23. Soco Says:

    I am 23 now , when I was 17 I started playing ddr. I started on heavy with ddr max 2 “cpt jack dream a dream , I was going through tough times with my best friend who killed our other friend then commited suicide , I was lost without him. I started smoking alot of marijuana and drinking loads of liquor. I never would eat , sleep nothin. All I did was walk around the city , party , played ddr atleast 13 hours a day, I got so pro at ddr that I starteed playing double pads on heavy , started with ghosts “ddrmax2” needless to say with the stress my life style my dedicarion to becoming a ddr.pro the weight loss completly snuck up on me. I weighed 265 or so before all this , 2 mnths.later I was down to 185 I am 6.1 tall btw, it wasnt the healthiest weight loss plan but it was never for weight loss , it was to get drunk and high and.lose my self in the.music the scores the arcade pads in public. So comlete list of what andd how I did it is. I walked prolly 15 miles daily , I played ddr for probably off and on combinded 10-13 hours a day , I smoke cigs , smoked alot of weed , drank lots of liquor “ate prolly 3-4 meals a week during that period of thhe 2 mnths , I worked at ups as a loader at night. So In those 60 – 80 days , I never really relaxed EVER. if I wasnt at work I was playing ddr , if I wasnt playing ddr I was walking the streets with friends , if I wasnt at home , work , outside then I was at a.cafe or arcade or somewhere where ddr was available. “point of all this is” losing weight off of ddr only depends on your skill of the game and dedication to that game , if your not getting AA scores 400 combos etc etcc then ddr isnt the weight.loss solution for you. Playying on beg , light , even standard varying by song ofcourse will not wield any results ,.if your.not playing a song thats so difficult that your body isnt fast enough to manouver the arrows then your not pltryinng hard enough to get good at ddr . ” start in tutorial mode ” I didnt” and learn the proper way to manpuver your feet for the situation. “pro tips for a ddr beginner” DO NOT KEEP YOUR FEET IN THE MIDDLE HOW THEY TEACH YOU TO DO

  24. Soco Says:


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