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Finding Fitness on the Dance Floor
Date:6/5/2009

"Ten thousand steps per day is the recommendation, but how many seniors are getting that?" asked sports and lifestyle nutritionist Molly Kimball, from the Ochsner Health System in New Orleans. "Two thousand steps is still good, and every little bit helps."

But, she said, different dances, such as the salsa, would provide a much greater aerobic workout.

Salsa was the focus of the other study, in which Italian researchers measured heart rate and oxygen consumption in dancers who were doing a typical salsa during lessons, salsa dancing at a night club or doing a group dance called rueda de casino.

The study included 11 pairs of dancers who were, on average, 36 years old. Maximum heart rate increased between 58 and 75 percent for those doing any of the three dances, and oxygen consumption went up between 41 percent and 56 percent, depending on the dance. Nightclub salsa dancing appeared to be the most aerobic of the three dances, though all increased heart rate and oxygen consumption, the study found.

"Salsa is a spirited dance," study author Gian Pietro Emerenziani, from the University of the Studies of Rome, in Italy, said in a statement. "With this form of dance, you are clearly getting a workout. All three types of salsa in our study, practiced frequently, will have a positive impact on health and fitness."

And dancing has other things going for it, fitness-wise.

"With dancing, you don't necessarily have to go to the gym, you don't have to run in the heat, but you're still benefiting," Kimball said. The trick, however, is to make sure you're not swapping dancing for a higher-intensity exercise, she said.

She suggests that new dancers check their heart rate while dancing to make sure they're getting the same workout they got from a spinning class or a run.

Another caveat, she said, is to make sure you don't negate the benefits of all your two-stepping by having high-calorie dr
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