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Dancing is NOT aerobic exercise!
- Dr. Madhu Thottappilli

October 28, 2016

Last month a lady came to me for a consultation with regard to her daughter, all of about 14 or 15 years old for some elbow related issue. While in the course of discussion I noticed that the young girl was slightly obese. Just out of concern, I generally quizzed her on what sports she was into, her mother cut in and said she was into classical dancing and that was taking up her extra time and hence she had no time for sports or any other forms of fitness activity. She also went on to convey that since her daughter was getting the needed exercise from dancing, she didn't need anything extra.

This got me thinking about the numerous times I have had this conversation with professional and amateur dancers who are very complacent in the thought that their dancing and the practice that went into their performances were adequate exercise. 'Dancing is not aerobic exercise' was the take away that I read from a recent article in an international journal of Sports and Exercise medicine.

Although there are many forms of dance based group and individual aerobic activity, performance dancing differs in many ways from them. Performance based dancing like the Indian classical dance forms tend to be performed at much higher intensity, in shorter bursts than the exercise dancing which are usually performed at moderate intensity over longer periods usually an hour. Hence a lot of the dancers do not get the intended aerobic benefits of exercises.

So the question I get asked very often is whether dancers ought to participate in other forms of exercises. The answer to that is an emphatic 'YES'.

All dancers must incorporate 'Cross training' into their routine which should adequately take care of their aerobic exercise needs. I advocate weight training too to most of my dancer patients who happen to be predominantly women, for its proven benefit in preventing Osteoporosis in the long run.

Swimming is an activity that I strongly recommend because of its ability to offer aerobic benefits while simultaneously not putting load on the joints that are involved in the dancing.

Dr. Madhu Thottappilli, Founder and Director of National Sports Medicine Centre, Chennai, is an Orthopedic Surgeon and has specialized in Sports Medicine from the United Kingdom. Dr. Madhu has been practicing sports medicine in Chennai for two decades. He has been associated with various sports bodies in Tamil Nadu in his capacity as a specialist in sports medicine and rehabilitation. He is the official doctor to the Board of Cricket Control of India for South India and the sports medicine specialist for the Chennai Super Kings, IPL team. He is also the sports medical adviser to the sports division of various banks and public sector companies based in Tamil Nadu.

Finally, we have an expert saying that. I have been trying to tell my students that just dancing is not enough, cross training is so important. Great to know this is being discussed.
- Komalika (Oct 29, 2016)

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