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Ballroom Dancing: DanceSport Inc.

Ballroom dancing may be considered as a tool to better social interactions; but what is not as known is how it can actually better health.

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By PePe Castro

When Maria Emilia Z. Silva, vice president of Alsco Development Corp., a real estate company with offices in Makati City and Sta. Rosa, Laguna, started ballroom dancing, it was mainly because her doctor told her she had high cholesterol levels and, as such, need to exercise – while, initially, she headed to the gym to lose weight, “after just a month (of regularly visiting the gym), I got bored. A friend told me, ‘Why don’t you do dancing?’ So I did.”

And so with dancing, not only did Silva “maintain my cholesterol level,” even losing weight to be a size smaller than she was when she started, but what came with it was a passion – enough passion, in fact, to push Silva to eventually establish Studio 116, a ballroom dance studio that “aims to popularize ballroom dancing, not only as a competitive sport, but also as an alternative (activity) to keep yourself healthy while having fun.”

Ballroom dancing has been around for sometime – extravagantly depicted in artworks coming from different eras. As a sport, though, called dancesport – generally defined by the Dancesport Council of the Philippines as “the pairing of male and female dancers using the required technique, together with floorcraft and artistic interpretation to produce a highly disciplined dance performance” – it started in 1907 in Nice, where choreographer Camille de Rhynal saw the business sense in making use of dance to attract and earn from its followers.

Subsequently, by 1921, dancesport already had different categories (professionals, amateurs, and mix couples), with the dances generally grouped into Standard, Latin, and Formation dances. The Standard dances include Waltz (based on the American Bostonwals), Tango (from Brazil), Viennese Waltz (from the South German Alps area), Slow Foxtrot (popular 1940’s bar dance), and Quickstep (derived from foxtrot, only slower). Latin dances include the Samba (originally African, but popularized by carnival parties in Brazil), Cha Cha Cha (developed from the Mambo), Rumba (defined as a new type of foxtrot with additional hip actions), Paso Doble (the only Latin dance not coming from the “Negro” culture, with roots in Spain), and Jive (swing dance influenced by the Rock & Roll, Boogie, and African/American swing). And then there’s the Formation dancing, where couples dance the same steps in synchronized manners.

For the likes of Silva, though, the appeal to ballroom dance isn’t with the competing – it’s just to dance itself.

“(Ballroom dancing) is addicting,” Silva says, “very, very addicting.” Worse, “once you get hooked on it, it will cost you a lot.”

The ongoing rate for ballroom dancing lessons range from P2,500 to P3,000 for two hours, which, Silva admits, is expensive. This is also why, for Studio 116, Silva wants “others (non-competitive dancers) to come,” so they can make the rates more affordable.” Group classes, with a module that is good for four one-hour sessions, can only cost P1,600, translating to P400 per session. For those wanting to avail of sessions only (not the whole module), the cost is P500 per session. Private lessons (one student per teacher) are usually charged from P1,000 to P1,500 per hour. The studio is also available for rental for P1,650 per hour.

Dance competitors have to spend even more – Studio 116 Latin dance instructor Ednah Ledesma, who is the only Asian to win the Blackpool Senior Latin Champion (in 2005) in the United Kingdom, says that for every competition she joins, she has to raise $8,000, “which is about half a million pesos. Besides that, there are the costumes that could cost up to $600 each, the shoes that could range from $200 to $400, and a lot of practice time in the studio (for dancesport competitors, workshops range from $120 to $130 per 45 minutes),” she says. “If you really quantify everything, it will be from half a million pesos or more.”

Silva likens ballroom dancing to playing golf – expense-wise, that it. “It costs as much as playing golf,” she says. “(With golf) the green fee is P2,000, plus your caddie, plus your membership in a country club… But all golfers know (their sport) is expensive, yet they continue playing, they forget (the expenses). It’s the same with (ballroom dancing).”

The pros always outweigh the cons of ballroom dancing, however – the oft-highlighted benefits include the fitness one gets from it; the socialization that builds camaraderie (it’s social dancing, after all); and the fun that can be had when dancing.

“When I started dancing, I kept stepping on a foot, so I kept saying ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry!’ My dance instructor asked why I was apologizing. I said, ‘Because I’m stepping on your foot.’ He said that I wasn’t – I was actually stepping on my (own) foot,” Silva says. “I have a lot of people who come here telling me they don’t have rhythm, they don’t have beat, they don’t have anything. You’d be surprised – after (taking) two sessions, you’ll see them dancing away already. I say to them: ‘If you can walk, you can dance.’”

Believing that everyone's perspective is important, Zest Magazine has opted to provide an avenue for these perspectives to be known. care to hear the publication's contributing writers; or better yet, do some contributing yourself by contacting info@zestmag.com.

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Study finds moderate-vigorous physical activity is the most efficient at improving fitness

Dedicated exercise (moderate-vigorous physical activity) was the most efficient at improving fitness. Specifically, exercise was three times more efficient than walking alone and more than 14 times more efficient than reducing the time spent sedentary. Additionally, they found that the greater time spent exercising and higher steps/day could partially offset the negative effects of being sedentary in terms of physical fitness.

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In the largest study performed to date to understand the relationship between habitual physical activity and physical fitness, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have found that higher amount of time spent performing exercise (moderate-vigorous physical activity) and low-moderate level activity (steps) and less time spent sedentary, translated to greater physical fitness.

“By establishing the relationship between different forms of habitual physical activity and detailed fitness measures, we hope that our study will provide important information that can ultimately be used to improve physical fitness and overall health across the life course,” explained corresponding author Matthew Nayor, MD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine at BUSM.

He and his team studied approximately 2,000 participants from the community-based Framingham Heart Study who underwent comprehensive cardiopulmonary exercise tests (CPET) for the “gold standard” measurement of physical fitness. Physical fitness measurements were associated with physical activity data obtained through accelerometers (device that measures frequency and intensity of human movement) that were worn for one week around the time of CPET and approximately eight years earlier.

They found dedicated exercise (moderate-vigorous physical activity) was the most efficient at improving fitness. Specifically, exercise was three times more efficient than walking alone and more than 14 times more efficient than reducing the time spent sedentary. Additionally, they found that the greater time spent exercising and higher steps/day could partially offset the negative effects of being sedentary in terms of physical fitness.

According to the researchers, while the study was focused on the relationship of physical activity and fitness specifically (rather than any health-related outcomes), fitness has a powerful influence on health and is associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and premature death. “Therefore, improved understanding of methods to improve fitness would be expected to have broad implications for improved health,” said Nayor, a cardiologist at Boston Medical Center.

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Fitness

Tips to avoid common running injuries

Injuries are very common among runners. Recent research estimates that 82% of runners will become injured during their running career and up to 90% will experience injury while training for a marathon. Some of the most common include a stress fracture, plantar fasciitis, hamstring tendinitis, ankle sprain, runners’ knee, and Achilles’ tendonitis.

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Photo by Malik Skydsgaard from Unsplash.com

Whether training for a marathon or preparing for your first community race, being knocked off course with pain can be hard to handle mentally and physically.

Injuries are very common among runners. Recent research estimates that 82% of runners will become injured during their running career and up to 90% will experience injury while training for a marathon. Some of the most common include a stress fracture, plantar fasciitis, hamstring tendinitis, ankle sprain, runners’ knee, and Achilles’ tendonitis.

Injury prevention is critical. Here are some safety tips from Dr. Joshua Blomgren, a 15-time Chicago Marathon team physician and sports medicine physician, Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush:

Don’t over-train

Don’t increase weekly mileage or intensity by more than 10 percent each week. Build up slowly and let a good training schedule determine how much you run.

Invest in good shoes

Go to a specialty running shop to be properly fitted for running shoes and/or orthotics. Replace them every 350-500 miles. Incorrect shoes can affect your gait, leading to injuries in your feet, legs, knees, or hips.

Choose the best running surface

Look for running surfaces that absorb shock. Opt for asphalt over concrete. Find grass or dirt trails, especially for higher mileage. Avoid uneven surfaces and seek paths with slow curves.

Stretch!

Training causes tight muscles, leading to strain and changes in your gait. Commit to a stretching program. Just 5 -10 minutes after each workout can make a big difference.

Strengthen muscles

Runners have tight hip flexors because their quads are overtrained. Strengthen your hamstrings and glutes to reduce chance of injury and abductors, adductors, and core to create stability.

Watch out for heel striking

Heel striking occurs when your feet land in front of you and your heel hits the ground first. This is common among new runners but can lead to injuries such as shin splints, stress fractures, and joint pain. Land mid-sole with your foot directly underneath your body.

Prioritize posture

Good form means staying upright and keeping your shoulders back and relaxed. Work core exercises into your training and do posture checks every so often. Hold your head right above your shoulders and hips.

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Fitness

Postmenopausal women can dance their way to better health

After menopause, women are more likely to experience weight gain, overall/central body adiposity increases, and metabolic disturbances, such as increases in triglycerides and bad cholesterol. Together, these changes ultimately increase cardiovascular risk. Around this same time, women often are less physically active, which translates into reductions in lean mass and an increased risk of falls and fractures.

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Photo by Olivia Bauso from Unsplash.com

Women often struggle with managing their weight and other health risk factors, such as high cholesterol, once they transition through menopause. A new study suggests that dancing may effectively lower cholesterol levels, improve fitness and body composition and in the process, improve self-esteem. Study results are published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

After menopause, women are more likely to experience weight gain, overall/central body adiposity increases, and metabolic disturbances, such as increases in triglycerides and bad cholesterol. Together, these changes ultimately increase cardiovascular risk. Around this same time, women often are less physically active, which translates into reductions in lean mass and an increased risk of falls and fractures. As a result of all these changes, postmenopausal women often suffer from decreased self-image and self-esteem, which are directly related to overall mental health.

Physical activity has been shown to minimize some of the many health problems associated with menopause. The effect of dancing, specifically, has already been investigated with regard to how it improves body composition and functional fitness. Few studies, however, have investigated the effects of dance on body image, self-esteem, and physical fitness together in postmenopausal women.

This new study was designed to analyze the effects of dance practice on body composition, metabolic profile, functional fitness, and self-image/self-esteem in postmenopausal women. Although the sample size was small, the study suggested some credible benefits of a three-times-weekly dance regimen in improving not only the lipid profile and functional fitness of postmenopausal women but also self-image and self-esteem.

Dance therapy is seen as an attractive option because it is a pleasant activity with low associated costs and low risk of injury for its practitioners. Additional confirmed benefits of regular dancing include improvement in balance, postural control, gait, strength, and overall physical performance. All of these benefits may contribute to a woman’s ability to maintain an independent, high-quality lifestyle throughout her lifespan.

Study results are published in the article “Dance practice modifies functional fitness, lipid profile, and self-image in postmenopausal women.”

“This study highlights the feasibility of a simple intervention, such as a dance class three times weekly, for improving not only fitness and metabolic profile but also self-image and self-esteem in postmenopausal women. In addition to these benefits, women also probably enjoyed a sense of camaraderie from the shared experience of learning something new,” says Dr. Stephanie Faubion, NAMS medical director.

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