By Louis Van Amstel
As a fitness professional, dancer and choreographer, I really believe in the power of physical activity when it comes to the body, mind and soul. Low-impact exercise, such as dance fitness for example, has benefits far beyond just weight loss. I have seen this firsthand with students who take my classes, as well as my own mother, who, unfortunately, has osteoarthritis (OA).
After a wonderful nine seasons as a professional dancer on Dancing with the Stars, I am now pursuing an exciting, new endeavor that allows me to combine my love for dance and passion for fitness. My new dance-based fitness company, LaBlast, offers something for everyone—those looking to burn calories, maintain a healthy lifestyle, learn to dance or just simply to have a great time.
While watching my mom experience serious joint pain in her hands and fingers from OA, I have seen how the condition can impact a person's life, both physically and emotionally. Before her diagnosis four years ago, she lived a very active life. In fact, she loved to dance. She and my grandmother, who also had OA, introduced me to dance at a young age. However, with her OA joint pain, she was often frustrated and used language that would sometimes get very interesting (ha-ha).
I convinced my mother to take my LaBlast classes, and, after working with a doctor, we developed simple ways to help make her symptoms less painful and diminish the frustration. Simple movements such as "jazz hands" and "disco arms" have made a big difference. Not only is she exercising, but she also is having fun.
As I continue to see with some of my other students, dancing can help in relieving symptoms of OA joint pain. A lot of people are concerned that the twisting and turning associated with dance might aggravate their joint pain, but there are ways we can modify dance moves so that they can still enjoy all the benefits and fun of this form of low-impact exercise.
Like other forms of appropriate exercise, dance builds muscle strength, which is important in people with OA. Also, dance fitness may help you lose weight, which will also take pressure off the joints. In addition, appropriate exercise, weight management and, in some cases, medication may also help people who suffer from OA joint pain. Remember to always consult your health care professional before beginning any new exercise routine.
Living an active and healthy life is important for overall physical health and general well-being. Inspiring this mindset in others is a passion of mine, which is why I'm excited to be partnering with Endo Pharmaceuticals and HealthyWomen on a new campaign called Making Your Move. The initiative is designed to encourage people with OA joint pain to get up and get active, and take healthy steps toward joint pain relief.
To learn about ways to potentially manage OA, please visit www.HealthyWomen.org/osteoarthritis or check out HealthyWomen's Bone and Joint Center. In addition, you can watch my video, which demonstrates a few OA-friendly LaBlast dance routines to get you moving. And don't forget to have fun!
Louis Van Amstel, a three-time World Dance Champion, coach and choreographer, is creator of LaBlast fitness, a new dance-fitness program, and is a Dancing with the Stars fan favorite.
This resource was developed with the support of Endo Pharmaceuticals