You may have heard of the fitness craze called Zumba. It is an aerobic fitness program featuring movements inspired by various styles of Latin American dance and performed primarily to Latin American dance music. It is a fun and simple exercise that helps people, including those with intellectual and physical disabilities, maintain a positive attitude and take charge of their health. By “dancing it out”, people can lower their risk of developing serious heart disease, osteoporosis, and arthritis. A daily routine of 30 minutes of brisk exercise like dancing or even walking helps lower a person’s weight, lowers cholesterol, strengthens a person’s heart, and reduces the likelihood of serious health problems in the future. Resources for Independence of Virginia launched a summer FUN-ercise program for the ladies living in the Hillview group home. The Zumba pilot initiative also includes friends of the Hillview residents — sticking to any exercise program is always easier with a “workout buddy”, right?!
While some people may start their workout routines with short term goals like “to get ready for the beach,” RIVA’s Zumba participants are focused on long-term lifestyle changes. The reason being is that the volume of research on the fitness levels of persons with developmental disabilities shows that in study after study, fitness levels of people with developmental disabilities are much lower than those of the general population (Pitetti & Campbell, 1991; Pitetti, Rimmer, & Fernhall, 1993). Many individuals with developmental disabilities get very little physical activity and carry high amounts of body fat, particularly women (Rimmer, Braddock, & Fujiura, 1993) and persons with Down syndrome (Rubin, Rimmer, Chicoine, Braddock, & McGuire, 1998). These traits do not develop from their condition, but rather from their lifestyle. RIVA and our Zumba dancers are determined to change that with a little help from Mary J. Blige’s “Fine” and the “Cha Cha Slide” as their favorite routines.
This is GREAT news for those we serve as well as our staff and caregivers! Keep checking in often to see RIVA’s progress over the summer. Remember, everyone is welcome to the inclusive class.