Health Scan: Shimmying towards health

Clalit Health find that Belly dancing may be good for women's health; almost all muscles are used during the rhythmic dancing.

Belly dancing 390 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Belly dancing 390
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Belly dancing may be good for a woman’s health. So suggest Clalit Health Services’ community medicine researchers who looked into the matter. (The former belly dancer who abandoned the “Big Brother” reality TV show, take note.)
Researchers sent questionnaires to 300 women with an average age of 48 who participated in belly dancing classes. Almost half of the questionnaires were sent back with full responses. A statistical analysis showed that more than 40 percent of those who shook their hips and danced lost significant amounts of weight; their assessed health was much better; and they visited the doctor less frequently after dancing. The research was published recently in the Israeli Journal of Family Practice.
Almost all the muscles are used in the rhythmic dancing, the researchers said, and the movements are “natural” and resemble mixing dough, harvesting fruits and serving food. Begun in ancient Egypt, belly dancing was originally a ritual practice.
Participants in the Clalit study were taught by a woman doctor who also studied belly dancing.
They danced two hours a week for a year. The majority were born in Israel, divorced and nonsmokers.
Average body mass index dropped from 25.34 (above the overweight limit) to 24.65 (just below it) and from an average of 68.7 to 66.84 kilos.
An international study of holiday shopping and religion finds that dominant religious groups are more likely to experience “consumption mass hysteria” while shoppers in minority religions, such as Judaism, may view malls and stores instead as central meeting places that “can play an active role in the creation of a sacred event.”
The study, co-authored by marketing Prof. Ayalla Ruvio of Philadelphia’s Temple University, found that holiday consumption in dominant religious settings – such as American Christians or Israeli Jews – can lead to greater frenzy and a “social tidal wave” that pushes people to excess during holidays.
The researchers said consumers in minority or immigrant religions tend during holidays to seek the company of those who share their beliefs. For some, shopping outlets aren’t shrines to spending.
Instead, they offer a gathering place for a “critical mass” in a religion to interact and temporarily overcome their minority religious status – creating a type of “marketplace sacralization.” In effect, “the marketplace, though normally viewed as profane and commercial, can, through the collective actions of religious devotees, be transformed into… a place of worship and fellowship,” the authors wrote.
The researchers conducted 41 in-depth, at-home interviews with Muslims, Jews and Christians in the US, Israel and Tunisia to examine consumers’ behavior when their given religion represents either a majority, minority or immigrant faith. For example, Christians are a religious majority in the US, a minority in Israel and an immigrant religion in Tunisia.
Some minority-religion consumers found comfort in marketplaces or products shared by those with similar beliefs. In one interview, a member of the Tunisian Jewish community used the animated Prince of Egypt movie to assist in his family’s Passover observance. “Rather than the sacred being invaded by the secular, the sacred comes to inhabit the secular,” they wrote.
In countries where a religious group was the majority, the dominant religion experienced “consumption mass hysteria,” which led to consequences of debt, drunkenness and overeating.
Dominant religions also tend to view religious holidays as a time of national or ethnic glory and “perfection,” while minority and immigrant religions report a stronger desire to preserve their traditions and customs, meaning these groups may be more orthodox in their observances.
Despite the many differences, participants from every religious groups emphasized charity and expressed the spiritual importance of helping others during the central holy days of Passover, Christmas and Ramadan.