The claim that individual participation in adequate amounts of regular physical activity can improve health and prevent disease is well established. The scientific evidence is based on many studies; epidemiological, clinical, and physiological. In the UK a working party of the Royal College of Physicians, convened in 1989, examined this evidence, recognised its importance, and based a series of recommendations on it (1). In 1996 a consensus development panel on physical activity and cardiovascular health convened by The National Institutes of Health recommended that all Americans should engage in regular physical activity at a level appropriate to their capacity, needs, and interest (2).
Frequent and regular aerobic exercise has been shown to help prevent or treat serious and life-threatening chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer. It also improves mental health, helps prevent depression, and helps to promote or maintain positive self-esteem (3, 4, 5). Weight-bearing exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of osteoporosis (6, 7). Regular exercise increases the level of chemicals in the brain, notably serotonin, which improve mood (8) and so can reduce stress, anxiety and depression. It can benefit those who have been bereaved and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Regular exercise also helps with weight control (9).
A major priority for Public Health is to embed physical activity in the lives of many more people (10). The medical profession and especially GPs have a major role in promoting regular physical activity in the general population (11). People can engage in regular physical activity in many ways, so which is the best activity to choose?
Scottish Country Dancing has been shown to be superior to other forms of physical activity in building levels of fitness (12). A Canadian study found Scottish Country Dancing to be superior to folk and square dancing (13). It can contribute to the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, perhaps due to the complex interplay of cognitive skills needed to memorise steps and formations and co-ordinate with others, and because dance music engages the mind (14).The social component of Scottish country dancing develops a sense of community and an enjoyment factor, which encourages continued participation and, therefore, long term involvement in the physical activity (6). Also the social relationships that develop in those who take part in Scottish country dancing are linked to good health, longevity and a positive attitude (15, 16, 17).
- PH Fentem BMJ 308 : 1291 (Published 14 May 1994)
- JAMA. 1996;276(3):241-246
- Jason Menoutis, Ed.D. (2008). "Physical Activity and Health”
- Jette M, Inglis H. (1975) Energy cost of square dancing. J Appl Physiol.1975
- Kravitz L, Vella CA. (1992) Energy Expenditure in Different Modes of Exercise. American College of Sports Medicine. Current comment June 2002.
- The Fitness Jump Site. Activity Calorie Calculator.
- Wigaeus E, Kilbom A. (1980) Physical Demands during folk dancing. EUR J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1980;45(2-3):177-83
- Parker-Pope, T. (2001). For a Healthy Brain You Really Need to Use Your Head -- Physical and Mental Exercise Can Stave Off Mental Decline.
- King AC, Tribble DL. (1991)The Role of exercise in weight regulation in non-athletes. Sports Med 1991 May:11(5):331-49
- Br J Sports Med 2000;34:409-410 doi:10.1136/bjsm.34.6.409
- Exercise on prescription improves health and quality of life – BMJ 12 Dec 2008
- Dougall P, Dewhurst S., Univ. of Strathclyde. 6 Aug 2010
- Erison M, An Evaluation of the Health and Recreational Benefits of Scottish Country Dance, City of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.
- Cornelia Beck (2003) Caregiver Supervised Exercise Benefits Individuals with Alzheimer’s. Journal of the Amer. Medical Assoc. 2003 Oct 15
- Housman, Jeff Sept/Oct 2005 The Alameda County Study, A systematic chronological review, Amer. Journal of Health Educ.
- Reston,VA:Amer Alliance for Health, Phys. Educ, Recreation and Dance 36(5):302-308
- Wingard, Dl, Berkman LF, Brand RJ(1982) A multivariate analysis of health-related practices: a nine-year mortality follow-up of the Alameda County Study. Am.J Epidemiol 116(5):765-775.