By: Lewis First, MD, MS; Editor-in-Chief
We publish many studies stressing the importance of physical activity as a means of maintaining general health and fitness, not to mention prevention or treatment of conditions like being overweight or obese. Dance is certainly an option for many children—but just how good is an organized after-school dance class or program in generating the CDC recommended 30 minutes of of moderate to vigorous physical activity?
Cain et al (doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-2415) collected data from 17 private dance studios and 4 community centers in San Diego involving more than 250 girls ranging from children to teens and used accelerometers and activity levels to measure the degree of physical activity demonstrated in 7 dance types—ballet, hip-hop, jazz, Latin-flamenco, Latin-salsa/Ballet Folklorico, partnered and tap. So which dance types provided good amounts of physical activity in dance classes? Not as many as you might think—and by adolescence, not one of the dances studied is more effective than any other at increasing physical activity.
Perhaps you should foxtrot over to your local dance instructors and see if they agree with the findings in this article relative to their own dance programs. That would certainly be a step in the right direction when it comes to making dance a better activity for improving the physical fitness of our pediatric patients.