Dance your way to better heart health

(NC) A diagnosis of heart failure can be devastating, especially for those without a support network. But it turns out dancing — whether it is ballroom, tap or line dance — might be a key to living better and longer.

According to Dr. Gavin Arthur, senior manager of Promote Recovery at the Heart & Stroke Foundation, keeping active at any age is important, but for people with heart failure, it is even more so. Just be sure to check with your doctor first.

“Choosing physical activity that has a social component is particularly great for people living with heart failure. Often people who are diagnosed with this disease can experience isolation and depression,” he explains. “Being involved in a group activity can help strengthen social and emotional connections, an important aspect of taking control of this condition.”

That's why heart failure patient Jerry Alfonso has made line dancing his passion.

“I started because I wanted to be doing something in the evening. I learned a few dances, then one thing led to another and now I teach several classes every week,” he says.  “I reach out to people to get up and exercise and while they come and dance with me I try to talk with them and encourage them to eat a healthy diet.”

Alfonso's enthusiasm is infectious, and now his classes range from beginners through to advanced line dancers. He knows that having a strong support network can be a safety net for people living with heart failure, and encourages everyone — whether you are living with heart disease or just looking to keep active — to think about joining a class or community group.

Connecting with people who understand can be a great source of information and support. In-person and online support groups can be very helpful to combat social isolation. Connect with others and find more information online at heartandstroke.ca/heartfailure.

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