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29th Oct

2014

New View on Salsa Dancing and Multiple Sclerosis

Researchers are looking at life-style changes, diet and exercise, including salsa dancing, to help reduce the often-debilitating effects of multiple sclerosis which includes problems with muscle control, balance, vision and thinking.  The disease causes the body’s immune system to attach the protective covering surrounding nerve fibers in the brain, spinal cord and eye.  Its cause is unknown and though genetic factors may increase the risk, there is no evidence it is directly inherited.  Environmental factors such as low vitamin D, salt intake and cigarette smoking have also been shown to increase risk.

As many as 500,000 people in the US and a total of over 2.3 million world-wide are affected by the disease.  It usually strikes in people between the age of 20-50.  More than two times as many women develop MS, a gender difference that has been increasing over the past 50 years.

Similar to Alzheimer’s and related dementia, the focus is shifting from pharmacological treatments to lifestyle changes that can alleviate symptoms.  Salsa dancing may be especially helpful.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is funding a study by researchers at Brown University in Providence, RI and the Providence VA Medical Center to determine possible benefits of salsa dance classes.  Because salsa steps make dancers move in multiple directions at once – front to back, side-to-side, diagonal and rotational – the researchers theorize they stimulate brain function more than movement classes where participants follow the leader.

1.  Landra L.  WSJ.  10.14.14.  Page D5.  New View on Exercise and MS.

 

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