Royal Scottish Country Dance Society
BACKGROUND : Osteoporosis is a condition in which bone strength is reduced because
of a change in bone quality and a reduction in the amount of bone material present.
It is thought to affect 1 in 3 (postmenopausal) women and 1 in 12 older men. It is
often called the 'silent killer' because it may not be diagnosed until one or more
bones are broken. There are 20,000 osteoporotic fractures every year in Scotland
and the bones most commonly broken are wrist, spine and hip. Following a hip fracture
one third of people do not regain their former independence. The personal costs,
in terms of finance and well-
Studies have shown that fractures can be prevented by improving bone strength and
avoiding falls. To improve and maintain bone strength, current guidelines recommend
that low to medium impact exercise, such as stepping, marching or intermittent jogging,
is more appropriate for individuals over 50 (Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.
1999). In the Glasgow area there are 15 physiotherapist-
HOW MUCH IMPACT FORCE IS ENOUGH : A large well conducted study undertaken in Germany
(Kemmler et al,2004) used 50 postmenopausal women and showed that activities which
generate impact forces between 1.5 and 2.5 times bodyweight could offset bone loss.
It has been suggested that certain forms of dance, including Scottish country dancing (SCD) may provide similar impact forces and therefore also be good for bone health. Latest figures provided by the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society show that there are 3,700 registered members in Scotland dancing each week as well as an unknown number of unregistered individuals dancing with both affiliated and unaffiliated groups.
SCOTTISH COUNTRY DANCE STUDY : There has been very little research on different types
of dance that could provide suitable impact forces to improve and maintain bone health.
A study to evaluate SCD focusing on the pas de bas step was undertaken at Glasgow
Caledonian University in 2008. The pas de bas step was compared to marching and side-
The force plate measures the forces produced as each foot strikes the plate and from this, the vertical forces reflected back into the legs and therefore the lower limb bones, can be calculated. The group who took part in the study had an average age of 65 years (ranging from 55 to 82).
RESULTS : On average, the pas de bas step generated forces almost twice body weight
through the lower limbs. This was shown to be significantly higher forces than generated
during walking, side-
IMPLICATIONS : From this study, we have shown that the levels of force generated during the pas de bas step are higher than those recorded for walking, side stepping and marching. Therefore, as pas de bas step generated almost twice bodyweight, it would appear to be a good exercise to offset bone loss. It would be sensible to propose Scottish country dance should now be added to the list of recommended activities for women who wish to maintain bone health. In addition, the pas de bas step could be a valuable addition to the physiotherapy led exercise classes.
The Following is from an extract ‘ Scottish Dance ‘
Sabita Stewart a researcher at Glasgow Caledonian University Division of Physiotherapy, carried out a study in collaboration with Glasgow Branch into the effects of SCD on bone health. Here is her report.