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The Benefits of Workplace Wellness Programs

Added on April 8th, 2015 Source: The Center for Association Leadership

When the Oncology Nursing Society built its new headquarters in Pittsburgh eight years ago, Ellie Mary, CWWS, went to the human resources director with an idea: Instead of letting the unoccupied space sit empty until it was rented, why not set up a dedicated workout space for employees? She got an enthusiastic green light, and Mary, ONS’s payroll and benefits specialist and an avid exerciser, got busy setting up a few classes, a TV for workout DVDs, and an area for walking indoors when the weather was bad. The space was eventually rented, but by then her small initiative was growing into an organization-wide wellness movement. The association now offers access to two treadmills, two elliptical machines, weights, and other equipment in an onsite gym for its 135 employees, as well as a bike rack and sidewalks, which were installed after people requested additional places to walk.

Wellness programs like ONS’s reflect a trend among employers, who have begun to realize that a healthier workforce means better productivity, less absenteeism, and more camaraderie among staff who exercise together.

Many association health plans offer incentives and discounts to employees who reach certain goals, such as quitting smoking or reducing cholesterol, making wellness programs a way to keep rising insurance costs down. And beyond those benefits, a workplace wellness program can help organizations tangibly demonstrate their missions to employees.

If your association is interested in starting or adding to a wellness program, the Corporate Health and Wellness Association offers these tips to get started:

  • Approach a wellness provider or consultant who has worked with similar-sized organizations. One place to begin is with your health insurance provider to find out what resources and incentives are available to your employees.
  • Conduct a survey of employees to gauge their interest in a wellness program, onsite fitness classes, or walking clubs.
  • Evaluate your workforce’s overall health. Speak to your insurance provider about evaluating claims history, chronic conditions, and where your expenditures are in areas that can be affected by lifestyle changes. Two important notes: This information is only an aggregate; privacy rules prohibit release of information about specific employees. Also, keep in mind that a wellness program should never be implemented in lieu of providing health insurance.
  • Form a committee to figure out how to engage your employees in the long term. Results will take time and dedication, as they do for individuals making lifestyle changes. Don’t abandon an effort too quickly because it seems like it’s not having the desired effect.
  • Organize social events and encourage behavior changes through modeling at every level of the organization. Consider developing a website customized to the wellness program. Get the CEO involved, profile employees who are making big changes, and put “health coaches” in every department to encourage staff.

The Sensuality of Salsa

Added on March 17th, 2015 Source: alive

What is salsa dance?

Salsa has its roots in multiple countries and cultures: Cuban, Latin, African, Caribbean—and you! Despite the fact that there are basic steps to follow, salsa dance is a creative and unique form of self-expression. The way you turn, move your hips and body, and interpret the rhythm of the music is entirely up to you and your personality. There are eight beats to every measure of salsa music. A basic salsa step will have you moving on beats 1, 2, and 3, pause on 4, and moving again on 5, 6, and 7. Pause on 8. Yes, salsa can get complicated—but it doesn’t have to be.

Health benefits of salsa

  • total body workout: abdominals, arms, legs, glutes
  • muscle toning
  • improved balance
  • cardio workout
  • brain challenge
  • stress release

Salsa can engage the whole body—but individual style varies from person to person. Some people may incorporate shoulder shimmying, hip movements, or African abdominal contractions—but those aren’t necessary. Salsa music is generally fast and upbeat, which makes the dance surprisingly aerobic. In one hour of salsa dancing, a 150 lb (68 kg) woman will burn just under 400 calories. Salsa not only burns calories, but also relieves stress and stimulates brain cells in ways traditional exercise can’t. Dancing requires the coordination of brain and body, which strengthens neural pathways and improves cognitive health.

Types of salsa

There are many different styles of salsa: New York Mambo (On 2 Salsa), LA Style, Columbian, Cuban, Miami, Casino Rueda, Puerto Rican Style, and more. Regardless of the style, salsa is traditionally danced in beats of eight. Though the patterns are dictated by the leader, you can stylize and inject your musical interpretation within that framework. You can add arm and hip movements to create your own style and accent the music, always remembering that salsa is a lightly flirtatious, playfully seductive dance.

Fitness & Weight Loss

Added on February 25th, 2015 Source: Fitness Health 101

Types of Movements

The Latin and Salsa dance style always consist of three weight changes (steps). The three weight changes, or steps, are performed in a four-beat measure. If there is no weight change, there may be a tap or kick. A break step may be performed, which is slightly longer than the previously mentioned steps. The movements require the participant’s upper body to remain level and unaltered throughout the various weight changes, which is ideal for core training and conditioning. The hips move quite vigorously, allowing the gluteals and the hip flexors to achieve a phenomenal workout. Your arms will also receive a solid workout while they help to communicate the leads in the Latin and Salsa dance movements.

Targeted Muscles

The types of movements associated with the various Latin and Salsa dance styles can improve flexibility, balance and coordination. Increases in flexibility will promote improvements in blood and oxygen flow into the muscle tissue and the flushing of toxins, essentially helping to cleanse your body. Gains in balance and coordination are beneficial in performing daily tasks and other physical activities with less effort and a reduced probability of injury.

Aerobic Effect

One of the greatest health benefits associated with performing Latin and Salsa dance classes is the improvement to the cardiovascular system. Most individuals will achieve an aerobic effect rather quickly while performing a Latin and Salsa dance class. More specifically, you will achieve your target heart rate and maintain that level for a minimum of 20 consecutive minutes. By doing so, you will have achieved an aerobic effect.


Latin and Salsa dance classes provide an excellent means for increasing your caloric expenditure. Coupled with consuming a minimally processed, nutritious and well-balanced diet, you will be able to create a caloric deficit that is conducive to losing excess body weight. Overall, Latin and Salsa dance exercise routines are quite effective at promoting safe and effective weight loss. In addition, many of the Latin and Salsa dance classes focus more on the aerobic aspect and less on style, allowing you to avoid feeling overly pressured to perform each series of movements with perfect technique.

Benefits of Latin Dance

Added on February 18th, 2015 Source: America’s land-grant university system

Types of Latin dancing

There are two types of Latin dancing. The first type of Latin dance derives its name from the area from which it originates, Latin America. These dances tend to be a little more freestyle. The second type of Latin dance is referred to as International Latin and is seen in various social dancing classes, ballroom classes, and competitions. These Latin dances are the social dances such as Cha-Cha, Rumba, Samba, and Paso Doble. Social dancing as a whole, has many health benefits for all ages. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have found that social dancing reduces the feeling of stress, increases energy levels, improves muscle tone and can even improve an individual’s coordination. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has also found that social dancing can lead to lower risks of heart disease, decrease blood pressure and assist people in managing their weight. Social dancing is also good for the brain. Like all physical activity it increases the blood flow which brings more oxygen to the brain. The social aspect of this dancing has been shown to lead to less stress and even less depression and loneliness because of the partnership that is needed for the dance itself. And lastly, in order to complete these dances one has to memorize the steps, even if it is just the basic steps of the dance. This memorization is important to keep the brain active and alert while performing a dance as well as the mental sharpness that is necessary for knowing and being able to perform all of the different step combinations.

Latin dancing shoes

Latin dancing does have many other physical and mental benefits for the participant. Physical benefits of Latin dance include an increased body awareness, cardiovascular endurance, muscle toning, and even bone strength. You may have noticed from watching those dancing television shows that dancers have a certain way of moving all the time. This is because dancers generally have great body awareness. They are used to having control over their bodies and they know what their bodies are capable of. Latin dancing, and especially a Latin dancing aerobics class, will generally involve quick paced movements that are designed to get the heart rate up. This increase in heart rate over a period of time leads to greater cardiovascular endurance. Latin dance requires the use of many muscle groups at once – often arms are up in the air, hips and core are twisting, and legs and feet are moving fast all at the same time. All of this constant movement leads to a more toned and slimmed muscle tone. Lastly, like walking or jogging, Latin dance is a weight bearing activity that will help maintain bone density.

Mental benefits

Mental benefits from Latin dance include memory improvement, increased self esteem, and stress relief. Memorizing steps and being able to recall them from week to week is a great way to improve memory. People who Latin dance often have higher self esteem because they feel comfortable with their bodies and how the body moves. It brings many people increased confidence outside of the dance class. Lastly, listening to the beat of the music and dancing is a stress relief for many participants when they are able to let go and forget some of their everyday worries. Even if the class is for an hour or two, it can have positive effects on the mind.

Dancing Makes You Smarter

Added on December 10th, 2014 Source: University of Stanford

Physical activity

For centuries, dance manuals and other writings have lauded the health benefits of dancing, usually as physical exercise. More recently we’ve seen research on further health benefits of dancing, such as stress reduction and increased serotonin level, with its sense of well-being. Most recently we’ve heard of another benefit: Frequent dancing apparently makes us smarter. A major study added to the growing evidence that stimulating one’s mind by dancing can ward off Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia, much as physical exercise can keep the body fit. Dancing also increases cognitive acuity at all ages. The 21-year study of senior citizens, 75 and older, was led by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, funded by the National Institute on Aging, and published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Their method for objectively measuring mental acuity in aging was to monitor rates of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. The study wanted to see if any physical or cognitive recreational activities influenced mental acuity. They discovered that some activities had a significant beneficial effect. Other activities had none. They studied cognitive activities such as reading books, writing for pleasure, doing crossword puzzles, playing cards and playing musical instruments. And they studied physical activities like playing tennis or golf, swimming, bicycling, dancing, walking for exercise and doing housework. One of the surprises of the study was that almost none of the physical activities appeared to offer any protection against dementia. There can be cardiovascular benefits of course, but the focus of this study was the mind. There was one important exception: the only physical activity to offer protection against dementia was frequent dancing.

  • Reading – 35% reduced risk of dementia
  • Bicycling and swimming – 0%
  • Doing crossword puzzles at least four days a week – 47%
  • Playing golf – 0%
  • Dancing frequently – 76%. That was the greatest risk reduction of any activity studied, cognitive or physical.

Why dancing?

The best advice, when it comes to improving your mental acuity, is to involve yourself in activities which require split-second rapid-fire decision making, as opposed to rote memory (retracing the same well-worn paths), or just working on your physical style. One way to do that is to learn something new. Not just dancing, but anything new. Don’t worry about the probability that you’ll never use it in the future. Take a class to challenge your mind. It will stimulate the connectivity of your brain by generating the need for new pathways. Difficult classes are better for you, as they will create a greater need for new neural pathways. Then take a dance class, which can be even more effective. Dancing integrates several brain functions at once — kinesthetic, rational, musical, and emotional — further increasing your neural connectivity.

What kind of dancing?

Do all kinds of dancing lead to increased mental acuity? No, not all forms of dancing will produce the same benefit, especially if they only work on style, or merely retrace the same memorized paths. Making as many split-second decisions as possible is the key to maintaining our cognitive abilities. Remember: intelligence is what we use when we don’t already know what to do. We wish that 25 years ago the Albert Einstein College of Medicine thought of doing side-by-side comparisons of different kinds of dancing, to find out which was better. But we can figure it out by looking at who they studied: senior citizens 75 and older, beginning in 1980. Those who danced in that particular population were former Roaring Twenties dancers (back in 1980) and then former Swing Era dancers (today), so the kind of dancing most of them continued to do in retirement was what they began when they were young: freestyle social dancing — basic foxtrot, swing, waltz and maybe some Latin.

Dance often

The study made another important suggestion: do it often. Seniors who did crossword puzzles four days a week had a measurably lower risk of dementia than those who did the puzzles once a week. If you can’t take classes or go out dancing four times a week, then dance as much as you can. More is better. And do it now, the sooner the better. It’s essential to start building your cognitive reserve now. Some day you’ll need as many of those stepping stones across the creek as possible. Don’t wait — start building them now.

Source: University of Stanford