Traditional Greek Dancing Can Save Lives

New Aristotle University study finds that elderly patients with chronic heart problems could benefit from dancing like Zorba

Greek dancing has always been a communal affair associated with joy and celebration, but research by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki found that it has numerous health benefits for those suffering from chronic heart failure. The results of the study, published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, found that patients who took up Greek dancing developed stronger legs and could walk further and jump higher than the sedentary group.

Scientists recruited 40 Greek patients with chronic heart failure and an average age of 73. After randomly assigning them to three-month dancing programs, the study group underwent weekly Greek dance training at three municipal gyms. It was found that the patients who took part in the 40 to 65-minute classes were able to jump 10 percent higher and were six percent faster than the control group.

Zacharias Vordos, an exercise physiologist at the Aristotle University, said that the researchers tested patients’ jumping ability with the Myotest-Pro dynamometer. Jump height and speed were recorded to assess their ability. Their strength was also evaluated with the leg-chest dynamometer. The results showed that traditional Greek dancing improves strength, endurance and jumping ability. “Patients who participated in Greek dancing jumped higher at the end of the training program, probably because they had stronger leg muscles,” says Vordos.

“We believed dancing would increase the attractiveness of rehabilitation programs for patients with chronic heart failure,” says Vordos, noting that attendance at the sessions was more than 90 percent, which suggests that this type of cardiac rehabilitation could attract more patients than the usual programs. “This was the first study to assess the impact of traditional Greek dancing on jumping ability.”

“We believed dancing would increase the attractiveness of rehabilitation programs for patients with chronic heart failure”

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