Keep on dancing

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: February 16th, 2007
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Keeping heart-healthy can be easy as ONE-two-three, ONE-two-three.

A new study by Italian researchers… presented at the American Heart Association annual meetings in Chicago … found that dancing helps patients with mild to moderate heart disease as much or more as a light workout on a treadmill.

The Italian study compared a more traditional structured workout to dancing and found that both forms of exercise had nearly equal benefit for the participants.

In general, people with mild to moderate heart failure can walk around, climb stairs and do other activities. But because their hearts pump less strongly than they should, they run out of breath more quickly than healthy people and can’t exercise as long.

For the study, forty-four men and twenty-one women participated in an exercise program consisting of cycling and walking on a treadmill three times a week for eight weeks. Another forty-four people danced, alternating between slow five-minute waltzes and fast three-minute waltzes for twenty-one minutes. They did so three times a week for eight weeks. The rest of the participants did not exercise.

Results showed waltzing boosted the heart’s pumping action, increased oxygen, overall circulation and the general well-being of patients who participated in the study.

And, because dancing is fun for patients, the researchers suspect people will be more likely to continue to participate when waltzing is the prescribed form of exercise.

So, for heart health, as the Bee Gees sang, keep on dancing. Yeah!