Researchers at the University of Illinois in US tested whether a community-based intervention focused on Latin dancing could benefit 54 adults (about 65 years old, 80 percent Mexican women) who were not very physically active.

They found that a four-month dance programme helped older Latino adults walk faster and improved their physical fitness. Participants were randomly assigned to either take part in a dance programme twice a week for four months or to attend a health education programme.

All participants completed questionnaires about their leisure time physical activity and a 400-metre walk test at the start and end of the study.
After four months of twice-weekly Latin dancing, researchers found that dancers walked faster and were more physically active during their leisure time than before they started dancing.

Dancers completed a 400-metre walk in just under 392 seconds compared with almost 430 seconds at the start of the study, researchers said. The study also found that leisure physical activity rose from 650 minutes to nearly a total of 818 minutes per week.

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