IANS/ New York
Not just daily walk or controlling salt in your diet, learning some Hula dance steps can also help you lower blood pressure, researchers say.
Native Hawaiians who participated in a blood pressure-lowering programme incorporating their cultural dance of Hula lowered their blood pressure more than those who received standard education on diet and exercise.
“Despite treating hypertension, many Native Hawaiians have difficulty controlling their high blood pressure, which increases their risk for coronary heart disease and stroke,” said Keawe’aimoku Kaholokula, professor and chair of the department of Native Hawaiian health at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu.
Hula is a Polynesian dance form accompanied by chant or song.
It was developed in the Hawaiian Islands by the Polynesians who originally settled there.
To reach the conclusion, the researchers recruited more than 250 Native Hawaiians (average age 58 years, 80% female) who, although under medical treatment, still had a systolic (top number) blood pressure of 140 mmHg or higher or had a systolic blood pressure of 130 mmHg or higher and also had Type 2 diabetes.
Participants attended one-hour group Hula classes twice a week for three months, followed by one monthly lesson for three additional months with self-directed practice, as well as group activities to reinforce hypertension education and healthy behaviours.
After six months, researchers found that compared with people in the control group, those who did Hula were more likely to have lowered their blood pressure to under 130/80 mmHg - the current target for blood pressure treatment for patients without diabetes.
They also lowered their systolic blood pressure more than 10 mmHg, an amount that significantly reduces the risk of heart attack, stroke and heart failure.
They were able to sustain their improvements in blood pressure at one-year follow-up.
“The participants said the Hula was fun and helped meet their spiritual and cultural needs,” Kaholokula said in preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association’s Hypertension 2019 Scientific Sessions.
Although the study was conducted in Native Hawaiians, results may also apply to other groups.
These results reinforce the idea that for most people, “the best physical activity for your health is one that makes you breathe a little faster and gets your heart beating a little faster”.
Whether that’s dancing, biking, swimming, surfing, or hiking, the key is to move more and more often.
“Being active with friends and family can help sustain the healthy fun over time,” said David Goff, director of the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
While the physical benefits of dancing Hula are clear, other positive impacts include creating family-like social support and increasing self-confidence and acceptance of others.
Other similar cultural activities, especially those that include physical activity that meets national guidelines,and social and cultural activities that engage and empower people to make behavioural changes, could be used in a similar fashion in other indigenous groups,” Kaholokula added.
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