Groove is in the heart

Health and Fitness
Research shows dancing may lower risk of heart disease by nearly 50 per cent.

Most of us have an idea about some of the lifestyle choices we should be making to improve our heart health.

Healthy eating, drinking in moderation and not smoking are some of the first that may come to mind.

Well now there is some good news for people who like to move, and it might be the easiest (and fun) way to help your heart.

A recent study by researchers at Western Sydney University and The University of Sydney has found that those who participated in dancing had 46% lower risk of cardiovascular death over a decade compared to those who rarely or never danced.

The study was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. With data drawn from 48,390 people over than 40 who live in Great Britain (between 1994 and 2008), this research was truly an international collaboration.

"Our study shows that dancing is one of the best ways to protect from cardiovascular disease death," said Associate Professor Dafna Merom who is from the Western Sydney University School of Science and Health.

It is believed that the social aspect, in addition to the physical exercise, plays an important role in the findings. 

"We should not underestimate the playful social interaction aspects of dancing which, when coupled with some more intense movement, can be a very powerful stress relief and heart health promoting pastime," says senior author Associate Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis from the University of Sydney's Charles Perkins Centre and School of Public Health.

It should be noted that these results came from people who were at least slightly out of breath or sweaty while dancing, as opposed to dancing at a light intensity.

Aside from that it does not appear to matter whether you salsa, disco, tango, waltz, foxtrot, rhumba or rave. What seems to be important is just that you dance.

 - Tim McMahon
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