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Strictly star targets bone disease


Each week Strictly Come Dancing thrills millions with its celebrity glitz, sparkly dresses, cutting comments and nifty footwork.

Doctors now want to persuade armchair fans to learn a few moves themselves - to help protect their bones.

Fronted by Strictly dancer Erin Boag, a DVD produced for the International Osteoporosis Foundation hopes to use the ballroom dance moves to help protect against the bone thinning disease.

Boag worked with doctors to develop the easy-to-follow programme, based on the the waltz, quickstep and rumba.

By using dance, people could improve their joint mobility and flexibility while doing something fun, she said.

"None of the dance moves are too energetic, so the steps should be easy for patients to learn.

"These dances are beautiful and graceful with movements that should flow through the entire body."

Juliet Compston, professor of bone medicine at the University of Cambridge School of Medicine, who helped to oversee the routine, agreed dancing could be a tonic.

"The idea was to be more inspiring about exercise and make it more fun and the beauty of the video is that it can be done at every level," she said.

"Research has shown that, although you can't cure osteoporosis, you can help to prevent its progression.

"Exercise is one of the most important things that people with osteoporosis can do to help themselves and dancing is a fun, beneficial form of exercise.

"Dance exercises the entire body giving joints, muscles and, most importantly, bones a thorough workout.

"Many fractures follow a fall, but if you keep your muscle strength you are less likely to fall. And if you do fall you are better able to protect yourself."

Joyce Scarse, 75, from Newmarket, agreed. She has had osteoporosis for a decade and her spine is crumbling.

Her condition is so far advanced she is unable to exercise, but said the video should help prevent others becoming as incapacitated as her.

"I do watch Strictly and think this is a fun way to get people to exercise.

"The message we have to get across though is that weight bearing exercise is something you need to do early in life.

"Conventional exercise does not inspire people so hopefully this might."

Rob Dawson, campaign officer for the National Osteoporosis Society, said they too were focusing on dance as a bone protector.

"We've been working with TV dance judge Craig Revel Horwood for the last two years to promote dance with great success and it's wonderful to see an international organisation using this fun form of exercise to promote bone health.

"Bone is a living tissue which reacts to increases in loads and forces by growing stronger.

"It does this all the time, so exercise will only increase bone strength if it increases the loading above normal levels.

"Weight-bearing exercise such as jogging can help maintain and increase bone density in the spine and hips, and arm loading exercises such as weight training can increase bone density in the wrist.

"Weight-bearing exercise means any exercise where you are supporting the weight of your own body."

The DVD is available free through GP practices.


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