Participating in regular physical activity, such as modern dance, may help young adults achieve a healthier distribution of body fat, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine.
Compared to non-dancers with the same overall amount of fat, the dancers had less abdominal fat which is linked to an increased risk of metabolic and heart diseases, a major public health concern.
“There was no difference in weight between dancers and the control subjects,” said Karlie Friesen of Oregon State University, lead author of the study. “However, a dancer’s abdominal fat, on average, was lower than that of a non-dancer, even when the two had the same volume of total fat.”
Researchers recruited 31 female dance students aged between 18 and 25 and compared them with 30 age-matched control subjects.
Fat distribution was assessed by whole-body DXA scans and calorific intake was measured by studying food consumption over a 3 day period.
The data was collected as part of a larger study investigating bone density and body composition in collegiate modern dancers.
“The association between greater deposition of fat in the abdominal area and increased disease risk is well-established,” said Friesen.
“What we don’t know is if exercise specifically lessens the amount of fat we store in that area. We found that modern dancers did exhibit a healthier pattern of body fat distribution than their peers who were sedentary to moderately active.
This finding warrants further investigation into the mechanism behind changing fat distribution patterns as a result of dance training and high-intensity exercise in females.”