Line-dancing stamps out osteoporosis

Line-dance classes are helping a Griffith University student from the School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science in her quest to stamp out osteoporosis.

Masters student Cath Young, who worked as a physiotherapist for 20 years before undertaking her studies at Griffith, has been conducting a 12-month study involving 39 volunteer post-menopausal women.

Ms Young said the philosophy behind choosing line-dancing was because it appealed to many people and could be easily incorporated into a community-based program.

“Weight-bearing exercise, like line-dancing, can stimulate bone mass in healthy individuals who have adequate dietary calcium and vitamin D,” Ms Young said.

“However, it can be difficult for people with low bone mass to do weight-bearing exercises safely, which is why supervised dance classes work well. During menopause, loss of the female hormone oestrogen causes the rate of bone density loss to increase, which means hip fractures become more common. I believe we can lower the risk of falls due to weak and shaky legs, and possibly reduce the rate of bone loss in those with low bone mass.”

She said low bone mass combined with high falls risk increased the chances of fracture.

As part of the study, the volunteers have been placed into three separate groups. All participants are provided calcium supplements and participate in the dance classes. One group also does squats for leg strength, while another group does squats plus a foot stomp exercise that could prevent further loss in bone mass.

“One of the benefits of line-dancing is that it encourages the movement of the hips, this is particularly helpful in guarding against falls because it improves balance and hip muscle control,” Ms Young said.

Ms Young said falling directly onto the outside bone of the hip increased by 30 times the risk of hip fracture.

“Many of my participants have no previous line-dance experience,” she said. “The degree of difficulty of the classes has been slowly progressed as their ability improves.”

Many of the volunteers selected have low broadband ultrasound attenuation, meaning they were at risk of fracture. Now in its fifth month, Ms Young will evaluate results after the volunteers completed the full 12-month program.

The volunteers meet once per week to line dance at the Southport Community Centre.

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