Hold your tap shoes right there.
If you think your daughter (or son!) is getting a good workout in her ballet or tap classes you might want to take a closer look. A new study finds that youngsters often don’t get much exercise during dance classes.
Researchers found that just 8 percent of children and 6 percent of adolescents were attaining the 30 minutes of after school physical activity recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through dance classes, according to the study published in Pediatrics on Monday.
“The key message for parents is to look for dance classes that have a goal of providing lots of physical activity for the students,” said study co-author James Sallis, a distinguished professor in family medicine and public health. Millions of girls are involved in dance classes, so we in public health see this as a perfect set-up to improve the health of children.”
Sallis and his colleagues asked 264 girls from 17 dance studios and four community centers in to wear accelerometers so the researchers could get an accurate picture of how much the youngsters were actually moving.
On average, the girls spent just 17.2 minutes in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, or about 36 percent of the class time.
But there were variations depending on what kind of dance the girls were doing: in Latin-flamenco class, just 14 percent of the time involved moderate-to-vigorous activity, versus 30 percent for ballet, 40 percent for tap and 57 percent for hip-hop.
“In a lot of these settings where you would expect children to be quite active, they’re spending the majority of time just standing around,” Sallis said, adding that it’s not like the children weren’t doing anything.
“They were busy. They were learning. But not being as active as perhaps their parents might want them to be because they send their children to dance classes partly so they can be active and get the health benefits of that.”
None of this comes as a surprise to Christa Terry, 35. Her 6-year-old daughter, Paloma, has been taking ballet and tap lessons for three years.
“Especially at the younger ages they are learning a lot of the fundamentals and combining that with fun,” said Terry, who also dances herself. “They’re dancing and playing and learning the movements. But they’re not dancing for an hour straight a competitive teen or an adult would.”