Waltzing Your Way to a Healthier Heart

If the thought of using a treadmill and stairclimber is too intimidating for you, Italian researchers have discovered a unique way for heart disease patients to get their exercise through waltzing their pounds and worries away.

Scientists divided 110 heart failure patients (mostly men with a median age of 59) into three distinct groups for eight weeks: Those who didn't exercise, a supervised exercise group who trained on treadmills and cycles and patients following a dance protocol.

Surprisingly, a comparison of the beneficial numbers (oxygen uptake, anaerobic threshold) among exercisers and dancers was virtually the same, and heart rates were slightly better among the latter group. The difference-maker, according to researchers, for the dancing group may have been in quality-of-life scores that were generally higher by the end of the study than those recorded by the traditional exercise group. And, after the study, scientists report the dancing group still gets their exercise through traditional means, in addition to waltzing once a week.

I suspect the very same variables that make conventional exercise so beneficial -- intensity, frequency and time spent -- were also followed by dancers. If you have two left feet and dancing doesn't interest you a bit, however, you have plenty of free resources available on my Web site to start an exercise program that will best serve you and your health.

American Heart Association November 13, 2006

Yahoo News November 12, 2006

MedPage Today November 12, 2006