Efficacy of Latin dance as a health-enhancing leisure activity for adults

Domene, Pablo A. (2015) Efficacy of Latin dance as a health-enhancing leisure activity for adults. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


Despite acceptance that physical activity serves as a protective agent against the burden of non-communicable disease, half of all adults in the developed world remain insufficiently physically active. The promotion of physical activity is therefore of paramount importance to public health researchers and practitioners. Dance, as a leisure or social activity, can play a role in the engagement of adults in physically active pursuits that are not necessarily thought of as traditional exercise per se. This is especially important for those individuals not currently meeting physical activity guidelines and is fully congruent with the current public health message that "some activity is better than none". A holistic exploration of Latin dance was undertaken in this thesis in the context of physical activity and psychosocial health promotion in non-clinical adults. The research encompassed a quantitative assessment of physiological and psychological measures related to dance. Over a 3 yr period, eighty-four women and men were enrolled in a series of four interrelated Latin dance (salsa) and Latin-themed aerobic dance (Zumba fitness) studies. Research grade motion sensing and heart rate monitors were used to evaluate the physiological responses to dance, and a novel activity-specific value calibration method was developed to process the data. The monitors, which are small and unobtrusive to wear, were then utilised for collection of data during performance of dance in naturalistic settings. Psychological measures associated with dance participation were captured using previously validated questionnaires. Results indicate that Latin dance elicits physiological responses representative of moderate to vigorous physical activity when performed primarily for leisure purposes. Modest improvements were observed post-dance in measures of cardiorespiratory fitness, body composition, and inflammatory biomarkers in relation to cardiovascular health. Moreover, participation fostered interest, enjoyment, and a positive psychological outlook, and enhanced well-being, mood, and health-related quality of life with large magnitude effects. The findings of this thesis may be relevant for researchers and practitioners interested in the efficacy of dance as an expressive and creative medium for the promotion of physical and mental health.

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