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ACSM In The News

ACSM is fortunate to be the go-to source on sports medicine and exercise science for several national and international media outlets. You can find some of our most recent coverage below, or you can view archived articles.  

Salsa or Tango Toward Health

by User Not Found | Aug 01, 2011
Studies examine impact of ballroom dance styles on health, fitness

SEATTLE – Ballroom dancing has gained in popularity in recent years as an activity for health and fitness. According to research presented today at the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) 56th Annual Meeting in Seattle, ballroom dances like the salsa and the tango contribute to health gains and may improve fitness for amateur adult dancers, as measured by heart rates and energy expenditure.

In one study, Italian researchers examined three different salsa dances among a small group of amateur dance partners. Their categories —typical salsa, rueda de casino (group dance in circular fashion), and “salsa dancing at night club” — were compared in order to estimate energy expenditure.

Each pair of dancers took a pre-assessment physiological evaluation, including height, weight and maximal oxygen consumption.  Following this, the dancers’ heart rates were measured during each salsa in the three categories.

There was a significant difference between males and females for effort, and corresponding heart rate, for all types of salsa.  However, heart rate was significantly higher for the night-club salsa variety as compared to the typical salsa (in men) and the rueda de casino format (in women).

These results, according to the research team, lend support to salsa dancing as an activity at the appropriate intensity level to constitute a cardiorespiratory fitness improvement for most people.

“Salsa is a spirited dance.   You are moved to move when you watch people salsa,” said Gian Pietro Emerenziani, Ph.D.-student and lead author of the study.  “With this form of dance, you are clearly getting a workout.  All three types of salsa in our study, practiced frequently, will have a positive impact on health and fitness.”

Another study examined ballroom dancing, including the tango, in older adults in order to assess whether dancing improved daily amounts of physical activity.   This population was designated as primarily sedentary, and enrolled in a 12-week program focused on ballroom instruction.

Participants danced one to two hours per week in an instructor-led class.  Researchers found beginner dance lessons replaced previously sedentary time, helping the group of older adults achieve close to 20 percent (i.e., 2,000 steps) of recommended daily steps within a two-hour period by the end of the intervention. Likewise, activity intensity increased over time for this group.

“Considering the age of our group, the way they embraced ballroom dancing as a form of activity should have implications for any physically inactive group,” said Stephen P. Cobley, Ph.D., lead author.   “Using the tango to inspire people to get active and simultaneously improve their health may be a lot easier for some than being persuaded to walk into a gym.  Dance is something almost everyone can do and enjoy, and use to their advantage.”

ACSM guidelines support the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which recommend that adults participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, which can be achieved in 30-minute segments five days a week. The same guidelines apply to older adults.


The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 35,000 international, national and regional members and certified professionals are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.

The conclusions outlined in this news release are those of the researchers only, and should not be construed as an official statement of the  American College of Sports Medicine.

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