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Swing Dancing and Your Health

Choices we make sometimes set us on paths with amazing outcomes, observes Dr. Dennis Fera of Holistic Health & Medicine in Hillsborough.

Dr. Fera with his swing dance instructor, Debbie Ramsey.

“A former staff person in my office was wild about dancing, and was always encouraging me to take lessons and get involved. And, in fact, I love music—I played string bass and bass guitar in a jazz band in high school and college. So I thought I might step out from my somewhat quiet, introverted lifestyle and actually give dancing a chance.

“My office worker urged me to contact Debbie Ramsey, who she described as ‘an unbelievably good dancer and teacher.’ So I did that; I signed up for swing dance lessons, and many years later, I’m still dancing as time permits, and I still love it.”

Dance for Health

Dancing is not only fun, it’s also good for your health, notes Dr. Fera—especially as we age.

The New England Journal of Medicine reported on a 21-year study of senior citizens—led by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City—to determine if any physical or cognitive recreational activities influence mental acuity. Some activities had a significant beneficial effect—most notably dancing—and some, such as golf, bicycling, and swimming, had none.

“One of the surprises of the study was that almost none of the physical activities appeared to offer any protection against dementia—and the focus of this study was mental acuity. Frequent dancing was the one notable exception. Reading offered a 35 percent reduced risk of dementia, bicycling, swimming, and golf, zero percent protection, and frequent dancing, 76 percent, the greatest risk reduction of any activity studied—both cognitive or physical.”

Many Approaches to Health and Healing

As a holistic physician with extensive training in physical medicine, Dr. Fera employs many "non-traditional” therapies to aid his patients in their quest for emotional and organic balance and robust health. His therapeutic approaches include:

CHELATION THERAPY. A safe, effective IV detoxification process that is also increasingly used to restore the blood flow in victims of arteriosclerosis without surgery. Often used to remove concen-trations of mercury, lead, and other toxic metals from the body.

OXIDATION THERAPY. Another IV procedure that rapidly relieves allergic reactions, influenza symp-toms, and acute viral infections. Tumor cells, bacteria, and other unwanted foreign elements in the blood can usually be destroyed with hydrogen peroxide treatment.

A procedure called “photolumin-escence” is beneficial in the treat-ment and cure of an extremely broad range ailments, from colds and flu to kidney diseases, osteo-porosis pain, tinnitus, certain dermatologic problems, and many others.

PROLOTHERAPY. Used for treat-ment of painful joints (back, neck, shoulders, knees, etc.). An injection procedure that is often beneficial, particularly when other treatments don’t work and X-ray findings are negative.

NEURAL THERAPY. Scars and other traumas to the body can cause areas of disturbed energy flow known as “interference fields.” Neural therapy eliminates the interference field, restoring normal energy flow and balance to the nervous system.

NATURAL HORMONE THERAPY. Used to address a wide range of problems including fatigue, weak bones, frequent joint injury or chronic pain, weakened immunity, thyroid problems, unsatisfying sleep, and skin problems.

NUTRITIONAL MEDICINE, including IV therapies and a strong emphasis on nutritional balance and proper use of vitamins and supplements.

STOMACH AND INTESTINAL SCREENING AND TREATMENTS. Used to discover the presence of pathogens such as bacteria, fungi, yeast, and various parasites, and to overcome digestive related prob-lems, GI irritation, and inflam-mation.

MERIDIAN STRESS ASSESSMENT TESTING a non-invasive technique to evaluate imbalances in glands and organ systems, and to help the body achieve optimal balance.

Dr. Fera says that “there have been other studies that clearly show that we increase our mental capacity by exercising our cognitive processes. It’s an age-old formula—intelligence: use it or lose it.

“The essence of intelligence is making decisions,” he notes. “And we keep that ability sharp by engaging in activities that require split-second rapid-fire decision making—such as swing dancing! Dancing integrates several brain functions at once, and it involves kinesthetic, perceptual, rational, musical, and emotional processes. It was Jean Piaget who said that intelligence is what we use when we don’t already know what to do! And that’s what precise, involved, ‘lead and follow communication’ swing dancing is all about!”

Exercise and Health

Notes Dr. Fera, “As we age, we tend to lose muscle mass and gain more fat. To counter that, it’s essential to have a regular aerobic and resistance training exercise program. Resistance exercise is especially important to maintain muscle mass. The more muscle mass you have, the less likely that you will gain adipose (fatty) tissue in your body.

“I’m a very busy person, and I don’t have an inordinate amount of time to spend exercising. It’s a discipline for me to exercise, and the reality is, I have other things to do than go to the gym.

“But I know that the vehicle that I’m operating in this life—my human body—can’t be exchanged for a new model. If I don’t maintain this vehicle I’m not going to accomplish much of what I need and want to do. So I have figured out the minimal amount of exercise I need to maintain myself at a significantly healthy level.

“I’m not planning to become a competitive weight-lifter or body builder with my body, either. I’ve found that if I do three to four hours of resistance training each week, and aerobic exercise like fast walking and swing dancing a few times a week, I’m maintaining my body at a healthy level. Because of what I do and what I care about, I have a special interest in maintaining cognitive functioning. And that is an important reason why, in my busy life, I find time to continue my swing dance lessons and attend social dancing events when possible. It’s a fun aerobic activity, and it’s also proven to be highly effective in maintaining cognitive functioning as we age.”