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Magazine

Magazine » March April 2013 Issue » Dancing Discoveries

Dancing Discoveries

Author:
Michael Mecham

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) children and adolescents should get 60 minutes a day of moderate- or vigorous-intensity aerobic activity while adults should get 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate- or vigorous-intensity aerobic activity weekly.

Eli Lankford, a professor of Health and Human Performance, recently conducted some research on social ballroom dancing. His research supports what many social dancers inherently know: social dancing is great form of moderate- or vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.

In his study, Lankford recruited 24 college-aged ballroom dancers to perform four dances: Waltz, Foxtrot, Cha-Cha, and Swing. Lankford monitored the dancers' oxygen uptake to determine how many calories were burned and compare that number to the CDC/ACSM measurements for aerobic activity.
The results? Every dance qualified as a moderate-intensity level aerobic activity with swing dance pushing into the vigorous-intensity range.

"When somebody turns on music at wedding, what happens?" Lankford asked, "People, especially some of the older people, get up and start dancing." This wedding phenomenon is one of the reasons Lankford began looking into researching social ballroom dance as a potential form of aerobic activity that would be especially beneficial for older generations.

One aspect that Lankford found particularly interesting about his study was the fact that the level of dance proficiency didn't have a major influence on the amount of energy consumed. Whether the dancers had been dancing for a couple of months or several years, as long as they were out there dancing, they got the exercise they needed.

Throughout his career Lankford has repeatedly spoken to different groups encouraging them to eat right and exercise. Lankford said that when most people think about exercising, they think it has to be on a treadmill or in the gym, but that's not the case. With social dancing as a legitimized source of aerobic activity, children and adults of all ages can continue dancing their way into healthier futures.

* Lankford, D.E., Sterling, S., Lee, L., Zollinger, K., King, J., Heil, D. The energy expenditure of ballroom dance. Med Sci Sport Exerc, 2011, 43 (5):S (2260).