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HEALTH REPORT - Waltzing Pumps Up Heart Patients

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This is the VOA Special English Health Report.

A social dancing program at a senior citizen center in Brooklyn, New York
A social dancing program at a senior citizen center in Brooklyn, New York

Dancing is good exercise. Now a study shows it can improve the health and quality of life of people with mild to moderate heart failure.

Heart failure is not the same as a heart attack or heart stoppage. It means the heart is weakened and cannot pump blood normally. As a result, blood and fluid collect in the lungs and fluid builds up in the feet and legs.

This condition develops over time. In the United States, heart failure is a cause or the cause of about three hundred thousand deaths each year. So says the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

People with heart failure get tired and short of breath easily. Daily activities become difficult. But their doctors may want them to perform aerobic exercise at least three times a week. Aerobic exercise is activity that makes the heart and lungs work harder and increases oxygen use.

Many patients, though, lose interest in traditional programs of exercise training.

So researchers tested the effects of dancing. They chose waltz dancing because it is internationally known. They presented the study at a recent meeting of the American Heart Association.

Doctor Romualdo Belardinelli at Lancisi Heart Institute in Ancona, Italy, led the study. It involved eighty-nine men and twenty-one women with mild to moderate heart failure. The average age was fifty-nine.

One group of forty-four people took part in a supervised program of riding exercise bicycles and walking on treadmills three times a week.

Forty-four others danced three times a week. Each time, they danced a combination of slow waltzes and fast waltzes for twenty-one minutes. A third group with twenty-two people did not exercise. All three groups were observed for eight weeks.

The study found improved oxygen use in both the dance and exercise groups, so the people got tired less easily. The dancers showed an eighteen percent improvement. In the exercise group, it was sixteen percent. The group that did not exercise had no improvement.

The researchers say the findings were the same as an earlier study of slow and fast waltzing. That study showed it was safe for patients with heart disease and a history of heart attacks. Doctor Belardinelli says doctors have to find something that may capture the interest of patients. He says exercise should be fun, so people will want to continue for a lifetime.

And that's the VOA Special English Health Report, written by Lawan Davis. I'm Barbara Klein.

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