Healthy Tips: Hula

I took up hula dancing at age 52 following a long rehabilitation from a fractured hip.  I was determined to get back on the horse, as they say, and not let the injury get me down.  A good friend and physical therapist convinced me that hula dancing would be great for my spiritual well-being, as well as my physical rehabilitation.

2 years and 3 Ho’Olaulea performances later, I can say confidently that hula dancing has done more for my well-being than any yoga or tai-chi class ever could.  So I had to find out if my new found “spiritual well-being” was just in my head or if there was really something to it.

That’s when I came across the article, “Hawaii research examines hula’s benefits for heart health, emotional well-being” in The Register-Guard.  The research claims that hula is good for the heart and soul, and it was presented to a convention of the American Psychological Association.  According to University of Hawaii medical school and the Queen’s Medical Center research, learning hula dancing can lower blood pressure and help rehabilitate patients after cardiac surgery or heart attacks.

The article goes on to say that the research attempted to evaluate how hula can help the improvement of health among Native Hawaiians, whose death rate from heart-related disease is roughly twice that of the general population in the state.  A study offered hula as rehab for patients after cardiac surgery or heart attacks, and the trial showed that hula improved physical functioning and boosted social support. (Mele Look, investigator on the studies)

I was further encouraged that an earlier stage of the research was accepted for publication in the International Journal of Sports Medicine.  Researchers found that low-intensity hula was slightly more energy driven than fast ballroom dancing.  On the other hand, high-intensity hula took more energy than a pickup game of basketball.

After reading this article, I am convinced that I am doing the right thing.  After all, I was an independent study and learned firsthand that dancing hula can improve your heart and soul, and in my case, rehabilitate a hip injury.  My husband also believes that hula has helped my golf game, and just listening to Hawaiian mele (music) helps me to relax so I can get through a stressful day at the office.

Maybe it’s the music, maybe it’s just getting out and doing something for myself.  Whatever it is, hula has brought me much happiness….Aloha!