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Dancing does it for heart health

Women participate Day Dance event.  |  Supplied photo

Women participate in the Day of Dance event. | Supplied photo

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Updated: April 21, 2014 5:11PM



A little dancing to get the blood flowing helps keep the heart healthy.

That’s one of the philosophies behind Day of Dance for Your Health. Franciscan St. James Hospital recently held its third annual event at its Chicago Heights facility.

The health fair offers women a chance to get screenings ranging from blood pressure checks to glucose and cholesterol testing. As a way to encourage physical activity, attendees participated in a group dance led by a professional instructor.

“It’s all about heart health,” said Mike Shepherd, regional vice president of marketing with Franciscan St. James Health.

Seventy communities and an estimated 30,000 people across the country participated in Day of Dance events, Shepherd said. Nearly 700 people signed up for the event at the St. James Health & Wellness Institute.

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, Shepherd said. More women die from it than breast cancer and lung cancer combined, he said. Regular checkups and screenings are vital for preventing heart attacks or other heart-related conditions.

Virginia Maynor, 74, of Hazel Crest, took advantage of the screenings. She said one of the benefits of an event such as Day of Dance is that it offers testing for those who can’t visit or don’t like going to a doctor.

“It’s a nice opportunity for people to find out about themselves, before it’s too late,” Maynor said.

Led by a St. James Health & Wellness Institute instructor, hundreds of women stepped in rhythm as they were led through intense workouts.

In between dance routines, Joy Jackson, 59, of Homewood, paused to cool down. She’s a member of the health club and regularly takes fitness classes. Jackson said she sees dancing as a fun way to get the heart pumping.

“It doesn’t seem like you’re exercising,” Jackson said.

Women need to spend a few days a week getting some kind of aerobic workout, said Dr. Daniel Netluch, chief medical officer for Franciscan St. James Health.

Netluch said finding 20 minutes a day is essential for keeping the heart in good shape.

Women should see their family doctor annually for screenings for diseases they might be at risk for, Netluch said. And they should stay away from foods with large amounts of carbohydrates and cholesterol.

“Just get out and do some kind of exercise,” Netluch said.



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