Dance classes don't deliver on daily activity needs

Dance classes don't deliver on daily activity needs

Dancing isn't getting kids moving like they should be

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Dr. Stan (Stan Cohen MD)

Is a pediatric gastroenterologist at the Children’s Center for Digestive Health Care / GI Care for Kids, whose books on nutrition for parents led him to start Nutrition4Kids with his co-founders.

The CDC recommends kids have at least 1 hour of moderate-to-vigorous activity most days of the week. For most kids, 30 minutes should come during school and the other 30 minutes from after-school activities (such as a dance class). However, a study from San Diego State University (KL Cain Pediatrics 2015, pages 1066-73) found that kid's dance classes did not provide enough activity to meet those requirements. 

The study followed the activity of 264 girls (110 were teens) who wore monitors (accelerometers) in 66 different dance classes. The average age for the younger group was 8 years of age. The average age for the teenage group was 13; and 27% of all the girls were overweight or obese. 

dance classes

Amongst the younger girls, 27 minutes of physical activity was recorded doing hip-hop. This amount was fairly close to the 30 minute after-school activity recommendation; however, they were moving only 57% during the class. During the other classes, they were moving only 22 minutes in jazz and partnered classes, 14 minutes in  ballet, and 6 minutes in flamenco. The teenage group got 16 minutes of activity during ballet and hip-hop or jazz.

Only 8% of kids and 6% of teens met the 30 minute goal  participating in dance classes. According to the authors, "jazz, partnered, and hip-hop in children had comparable amounts of vigorous activity compared with baseball/softball," but not comparable to the vigorous activity of soccer. 

The authors have several recommendations to increase the physical activity in dance classes:

  • Change the teaching methods to increase activity
  • Have more dynamic warm-up periods
  • Encourage participation in those classes that have more physical activity

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