The Need to Get Moving
Physical activity is an important component of a healthy lifestyle. It burns off excess calories and helps a person lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. Exercise keeps the bones and muscles strong and the joints flexible. It can reduce blood pressure and lower the risk of several important chronic health problems, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, arthritis and some types of cancer.
Health experts say adults should get a minimum of 30 minutes of daily, moderate intensity physical activity. However, the Surgeon General reports more than 60 percent of American adults don’t meet those guidelines. About 25 percent get no physical activity.
Dancing it Up
Researchers say, compared to other ethnic groups in the U.S., Latino men and women have the lowest rates of physical activity. At the Texas Obesity Research Center in Houston, experts are encouraging Latino women to become more physically active through dance. The program uses salsa dancing because it’s a popular style among Latinos. Salsa Instructor Raul Edwards says when done properly, salsa dancing works the core muscles and provides a cardio workout, resistance training and improvements in flexibility. The benefits of salsa dancing were studied in a trial called, “Saving Lives, Staying Active” (SaLSA). 80 African American, Hispanic or Latino women, aged 25 through 60, participated in the study.
In addition to the dancing, the women tried many different kinds of salsa (the food) recipes. Salsa is a very popular condiment and can be made from fruits as well as vegetables. Researcher Rebecca Lee, Ph.D., says women had access to a website that posted new recipes weekly for all kinds of salsa. The goal of adding the food salsa to the study was to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables.
Lee says by the end of the study period, the women were averaging about one hour and forty five minutes more physical activity a week than when they started. The women also had moderate decreases in blood pressure by the end of the study.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone
Ham, Sandra, et al., “Physical Activity Patterns Among Latinos in the United States,” Preventing Chronic Disease, October 2007, Vol. 4, No. 4, pp. 1-13.
Hovell, M., et al., “Culturally Tailored Exercise Intervention for Low-Income Latinos,” American Journal of Health Promotion, January-February 2008, Vol. 22, No. 3, pp. 155-163.
Lohan, Timothy, et al., “Relationships among Fitness, Body Composition, and Physical Activity,” Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, June 2008, Vol. 40, No. 6, pp. 1163-1170.
Van Duyn, Mary Ann, Ph.D., R.D., et al., “Adapting Evidence-Based Strategies to Increase Physical Activity among African Americans, Hispanics, Hmong, and Native Hawaiians,” Preventing Chronic Disease, October 2007, Vol. 4, No. 4, pp. 1-11.