Is Your Child Getting Enough Exercise During Dance Class?

You bring your child every week dutifully to dance class. But is she getting enough exercise?

In a Pediatrics study, activity levels during dance class for 264 girls from 17 private dance studios and four community centers in California was assessed. The study found that, overall, physical activity in dance classes was low. In fact, only 8 percent of children and 6 percent of adolescents met the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations for 30 minutes of after school physical activity. While activity levels varied by age and dance styles, children were more active than adolescents in all types of dance classes, except for ballet.

So why is this happening? Part of the problem can be tied to the focus on teaching routines in the adolescent classes, rather than engaging in active dancing. Hip-hop dance provided the most activity for children, while ballet provided the highest levels of activity for adolescents.

Dance does have many health benefits such as muscle and bone strengthening, improved balance and flexibility as well as important social, developmental and cultural benefits. The study’s authors believe that dance organizations should be encouraged to adopt increased physical activity goals for their classes to ensure children and adolescents meet the 30-minutes of after school activity recommended by the CDC—but parents can also do their part. Encourage your child to practice her routine during the week so that she gets even more exercise—and join her, too, so you can both be dancing queens.

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