WASHINGTON — Women often struggle with managing their weight and other health risk factors, such as high cholesterol, once they transition through menopause.
A new study titled “Dance practice modifies functional fitness, lipid profile, and self-image in postmenopausal women” suggests that dancing may effectively lower cholesterol levels, improve fitness and body composition and, in the process, improve self-esteem.
Study results are published in “Menopause,” the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).
Menopause is a time when a cis-woman no longer has her menstrual periods. A natural phenomenon, menopause can happen when a cis-woman is in her 40s or 50s. This change marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years.
After menopause, women are more likely to experience weight gain, overall/central body adiposity increases, and metabolic disturbances, such as increases in triglycerides and bad cholesterol. Together, these changes ultimately increase cardiovascular risk.
Around this same time, women are often less physically active, which translates into reductions in lean mass and an increased risk of falls and fractures. As a result of all these changes, postmenopausal women often suffer from decreased self-image and self-esteem, directly related to overall mental health.
Physical activity has been shown to minimize many health problems associated with menopause. Specifically, the effect of dancing has already been investigated concerning how it improves body composition and functional fitness.
Few studies, however, have investigated the effects of dance on body image, self-esteem, and physical fitness together in postmenopausal women.
The study was designed to analyze the effects of dance practice on body composition, metabolic profile, functional fitness, and self-image/self-esteem in postmenopausal women.
For the same, a total of 36 postmenopausal participants (mean age 57 years) danced three times per week for 90 minutes each day and were evaluated before and after 16 weeks.
Although the sample size was small, the study suggested some credible benefits of a three-times-weekly dance regimen in improving the lipid profile and functional fitness of postmenopausal women and self-image and self-esteem.
Dance therapy is seen as an attractive option because it is a pleasant activity with low associated costs and a low risk of injury for its practitioners. Additional confirmed benefits of regular dancing include improved balance, postural control, gait, strength, and overall physical performance.
All of these benefits may contribute to a woman’s ability to maintain an independent, high-quality lifestyle throughout her lifespan.
“This study highlights the feasibility of a simple intervention, such as a dance class three times weekly, for improving not only fitness and metabolic profile but also self-image and self-esteem in postmenopausal women,” said Stephanie Faubion, The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) medical director.
“In addition to these benefits, women also probably enjoyed a sense of camaraderie from the shared experience of learning something new.”
(With inputs from ANI)
Edited by Ojaswin Kathuria and Nikita Nikhil