Hula for the Heart

Who knew that hula could be considered as much a cardio workout as tennis or basketball?

That’s what a new study is saying; The University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine and Queen’s Medical Center tracked the amount of expended energy by hula dancers for the past five years and found that low-intensity hula had a metabolic equivalent just higher than ballroom dancing. High-intensity hula had a value comparable to playing tennis and competitive basketball or volleyball, the study shows.

Hula starts from a young age in Hawaii. Here’s a little dancer performing on Kaua“i.

It’s first-of-its-kind research that not only proves hula is good for the body, but it’s good for the heart as well. The Hula Empowering Lifestyle Adaptations (HELA) study provides scientific proof of how hula can be an effective form of cardiac rehabilitation. The participants had either suffered from a heart attack, heart failure or undergone heart surgery. The Native Hawaiian community must be applauding the findings (I know I am), as heart disease is very common in this particular ethnic group.

I’d say this is just another reason to learn how to dance the hula when people are here on Hawaii Vacations. Ask our fellow blogger, Katherine Finch; she’ll tell you how much fun it can be! She’s been dancing for years. Many hotels are starting to offer free cultural workshops, such as how to dance hula or to play the ukulele. There are always free hula shows as well, so it’d be a great chance to talk story with the kumu hula (hula teachers) and find out their suggestions of places to learn in the community. You’ll also notice that age doesn’t matter when it comes to dancing. The picture above is of my niece Phoenix (a.k.a. Fifi or Lil P!). She volunteered to dance in front of a crowd of 200 people at a Kaua’i shopping center. Totally fearless and with so much style and grace. Hula is in her body and soul.

For centuries, we knew that this cultural dance had been deeply connected to Hawaii’s identity; now we can say that its beauty and flow are also deeply rooted in our physical well-being.

Posted by: Bruce Fisher