Thursday, November 23, 2006

Doctor's Daily Dose: Dancing

news you may not know

When The

Doctor Says Dance...

Sometimes life is hard. The "Apple-A-Day" approach to medical management has, despite enthusiastic and widespread endorsement, failed to keep your evil doctor away. Of course, the "Gimme a double cheeseburger, large fries and chocolate shake" that, honed by years of dedicated repetition, falls effortlessly off your tongue may come into play, but still... You really bought in to the apple-protection plan and - well, maybe not everyday, but just last week, or maybe it was the week before you had... Oh, right - it was an apple fritter, but still...

Less than optimum lifestyle choices, or simple genetic predisposition, have resulted in heart failure. Simple tasks, such as walking up the stairs, now seem as daunting as running a marathon. Heart failure has many contributing factors, but whatever the primary cause, it leaves patients with a heart that no longer efficiently pumps blood to the body. This inefficiency results in a lack of oxygen being carried to the muscles and the subsequent weakness and fatigue.

What to do? Hit the gym - through yourself blindly into a series of aerobic exercises. When the going gets tough, repeat your encouragement mantra, "The treadmill is my buddy - the treadmill is my buddy - I hate the friggin..." Ah, yes - there's the problem. Studies reveal over 70% of heart patients quit traditional exercise programs, often converting treadmills into bedroom art dedicated to protesting the abusive regimes of totalitarian physicians.

Or - you can dance.

Researchers in Italy found that dancing has the same health benefit as the treadmill and other gymnasium induced forms of healthy, but boring, activities. The study showed no difference in the oxygen uptake or the anaerobic threshold, the point at which muscles fatigue, of the two groups. One group followed a regimen consisting of treadmill workouts three times each week and the second group danced, also three times each week. At the end of the eight weeks, the cardiopulmonary fitness of both groups had improved to a similar degree.

While the Italians did the waltz, it is believed any moderately active dance will suffice. So, when the cheeseburger beckons, throw back your head in disdain, look it straight in its artery clogging eyes and say, "Back off - you don't want to tango with me!"

For more details, see this CNN report: Prescription: Dance for heart's sake.


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