The metabolic demands of culturally-specific Polynesian dances
It is suggested that dancing is a form of exercise that induces favorable physiological and psychological effects comparable to aerobic exercise training. The current study sought to measure the metabolic demands for several Polynesian dances (i.e., Hawaiian hula, Fijian, Maori haka and poi balls, Samoan sasa and slap, Tahitian, and Tongan), and to evaluate possible gender differences in these measures in a group of experienced Polynesian dancers. Thirty participants (13 men and 17 women) were tested through a dance testing protocol, using indirect calorimetry. Metabolic demands were evaluated in units of metabolic equivalent (MET), as well as both aerobic and anaerobic activity energy expenditure (AEE) contributions to total AEE. One sample t-test was used to compare the mean MET values for each cultural dance to the cutoff values (3-MET and 6-MET, respectively) for moderate and vigorous physical activity. Gender differences were examined using independent t-tests. The mean MET values for all, but Maori poi balls dance, were significantly greater than 3.0 METs. The mean MET values for Samoan sasa, Samoan slap and Tahitian were also significantly greater than 6.0 METs. The men's MET values for Hawaiian hula, Samoan sasa, Tongan, Fijian, and Maori haka were all significantly greater (P < 0.001) than the corresponding values for women, while the Tahitian MET values were similar (P = 0.526) between both genders. Aerobic and anaerobic AEE contribute 83.4% and 16.6%, respectively, on average, for Polynesian dances, with Hawaiian hula being the most aerobic (88.7% and 11.3%, respectively) and Samoan slap being the least aerobic (74.2% and 25.8%, respectively). The aerobic AEE for men was significantly greater than that for women for the Hawaiian hula, Samoan sasa, Fijian, Maori haka, and Tongan (P < 0.001), while no significance gender difference was observed in anaerobic AEE (P = 0.087 - 0.989). The present study indicated that the Polynesian dance of various forms met the current PA recommendations, and thus can be used as an appropriate mode of aerobic exercise to increase regular physical activity in the ethnic minorities in Hawaii and the south Pacific for health promotion and disease prevention.