Salsa dancing may get older Latinas active

Feb. 10, 2013 at 11:55 PM

CHICAGO, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say they are studying whether Latina women have an interest and would benefit from salsa dancing lessons in community settings.

David Marquez of the University of Illinois at Chicago and colleagues are researching whether a four-month instructional dance program for Latino seniors could improve their level of physical activity -- and with it, their balance and mobility and cognitive function.

Latinos ages 65-74 are much less likely than other seniors to participate in physical leisure-time activities, have more difficulty walking than non-Latino whites and develop symptoms of Alzheimer's disease an average of seven years earlier, Marquez said. The health disparities are likely due in part to Latinos' lower physical activity, Marquez said.

Marquez teamed up with Miguel Mendez, an accomplished Latin dance instructor and after input from focus groups, developed an instruction program of Latin dances for older adults called BAILAMOS.

The tempo slows at times, and people who need to can spend more time on a given dance step. Everyone is able to learn the steps and do the four dances by the end of the class, Mendez said.

The four-month, twice weekly dance classes will be offered in senior centers, community centers and park buildings.

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