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Presented recently at the American College of Sports Medicine meeting in Seattle, one study found that salsa dancing could improve cardiovascular fitness, and the other found that less vigorous ballroom dances such as the fox trot or tango — although not as much of a workout as salsa — can add 2,000 steps or so to a person’s daily walking total.
“Learning to dance can be a fun, social, local and friendly way to enjoy low-intensity physical activity and skill learning,” said the author of the second study, Stephen Cobley, a senior lecturer in skill acquisition and sport/exercise psychology at Leeds Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom.
Dancing, or at least watching dancing on TV, has soared in popularity recently. In the United States, “Dancing with the Stars” draws a significant audience each week, and its British counterpart, “Strictly Come Dancing,” has more than 8 million viewers, according to Cobley.
Because this show was drawing so many viewers in the U.K., Cobley and his colleagues thought to capitalize on its popularity and conducted a study by offering a 12-week series of introductory ballroom dancing lessons to a group of sedentary adults.
The average age of the 27 study participants was 53, and most — 22 — were women. The once-a-week, two-hour classes were led by an instructor and included dances such as the tango, fox trot and cha-cha.
The classes replaced what was usually sedentary time for the participants and added about 2,000 steps to their daily total, the researchers said. Experts recommend 10,000 steps a day for good health.