Dance Your Way Through Diabetes: The Benefits for Your Body

Monday, June 27, 2022 - 11:29

Whether you are a person living with type 1 diabetes or not, there’s always a good reason to break out into a little dance. You just scored a new job, your team won the finals, the sun is shining, or you feel like doing a shimmy in the shower. One of the great things about dancing is that you can do it anywhere, anytime and you don’t need to be good at it to reap its many health benefits. Whether it’s popping and locking in the playground, waltzing at work, dabbing in the dining room, or shakin’ it in the schoolyard, getting your groove on can do wonders for your body – the best part is that it doesn’t even feel like exercise! Whether you’re living with type 1 diabetes or not, if you’re wondering how the do-si-do might benefit your body, read on to find out.

 

5 Reasons Your Body Will Love Dance

1. Improves Bone Strength1

In addition to being a fun form of movement, dancing is considered to be a weight-bearing exercise. People living with both types 1 and 2 diabetes are at a higher risk of fragility bone fractures associated with osteoporosis when compared to people without diabetes. Between type 1 and type 2, studies suggest that type 1 diabetes carries a higher risk of osteoporotic fractures.Regular weight-bearing exercises, such as dancing, have been shown to strengthen the bones by promoting bone mineral accumulation. As type 1 diabetes is associated with low bone mineral density, any physical activity that can help improve this, is a great option.

 

2. Burns Calories

We all know that keeping within a healthy body weight range is an important part of diabetes management. Harvard Medical School has helpfully provided an idea of how many calories are consumed during various types of dance after half an hour. For example, a 155-pound person (approximately 70kg) doing the foxtrot will burn around 108 calories while disco dancing takes around 198 calories. For those partial to ballet or doing the twist (and shout!), you can expect to burn around 216 calories.2

 

3. Lowers Blood Glucose

There have been various studies conducted on the impact of aerobic exercises such as dancing on HbA1c levels. Though the results are not unanimous, there is some suggestion that such activities may lower your HbA1c as well as reduce daily insulin requirements and decrease insulin resistance.3,4 The most benefit is seen when engaging in exercise at least three times a week3 (meaning Saturday night fever doesn’t need to be kept to just Saturdays).  

 

4. Improves Heart Health

Cardiovascular health can be affected by diabetes in various ways. Fortunately, dancing is great for boosting this organ system via different pathways. People living with type 1 diabetes may have a tendency towards unhealthy lipid profiles, which is not great for the heart and arteries. However, studies show that frequent and longer duration exercise may improve low-density to high-density lipid ratios as well as lower triglycerides.3,4 Furthermore, improving your aerobic fitness through dance can directly enhance your cardiovascular health and significantly reduces premature mortality.3,4 Do you need any more reason to get your groove going?

 

5. Promotes Flexibility and Balance

If you’ve ever watched the ballet (or tried it yourself), you’ll know there’s a great deal of flexibility and balancing involved. Even less intense forms of dance require some degree of mobility and balance as you shift your weight from foot to foot. This balance training can help to reduce your risk of falls and associated injuries and bone fractures, as well as improve motor coordination, especially as you get older.5

 

Before You Get Your Boogie On

If your toes are a-tapping already and you can’t wait to jeté into dancing, here are some tips on how you can incorporate dance into your exercise routine.

  • If you’re just starting out on your dance journey you may want to try out a few styles to see what feels good and gets you in your groove. The important thing is to find a form of movement you enjoy that will make exercising feel like fun.
  • Monitor your blood glucose levels before and after, especially if you’re unsure of how dance exercise may affect your blood glucose levels.
  • Wear your medical alert bracelet and, as with all physical exercises, be prepared for a hypoglycaemic event, by following your usual hypo treatment (that has been recommended by your diabetes healthcare team). If you’re wearing an insulin pump (hyperlink) you may also want to consider adjusting the basal rate to match your dance exercise to avoid dropping below your normal blood glucose range.
  • Discuss with your diabetes healthcare team about incorporating your chosen form of dancing into your exercise routine. They may be able to provide valuable guidance to ensure you’re able to take part in dancing safely.

 

Final Thoughts

Dance is a form of exercise that provides health benefits for everybody, not just those living with type 1 diabetes. It’s fun, easily accessible, and can be entirely free. You can join a dance club, participate in a Zumba class at the gym, or shake and shimmy it solo if that’s more your style. So whatever form of dance you choose, bring out those happy feet and boogie your way to a healthier body!

 

 

References

1.  Chandran M. Clinical aspects and management of osteoporosis and fragility fractures in patients with diabetes. Osteoporosis and Sarcopenia. 2017;3(3):123-127.

2. Harvard Health Publishing. Calories burned in 30 minutes for people of three different weights. https://www.health.harvard.edu/. 2021. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/diet-and-weight-loss/calories-burned-in-30-minutes-of-leisure-and-routine-activities. (Accessed July 2021).

3. Wu N, Bredin S, Guan Y, Dickinson K, Kim D, Chua Z, Kaufman K, Warburton D. Cardiovascular health benefits of exercise training in persons living with type 1 diabetes: a systemic review and meta-analysis. J Clin Med. 2019;8(2):253.

4. Harvard Health Publishing. The importance of exercise when you have diabetes. https://www.health.harvard.edu/. 2021. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-importance-of-exercise-when-you-have-diabetes. (Accessed July 2021).

5. El-Khoury F, Cassou B, Charles M-A, Dargent-Molina P. The effect of fall prevention exercise programmes on fall induced injuries in community dwelling older adults: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. BMJ 2013; 347: f6234 doi: 10.1136/bmj.f6234.