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an English-speaking doctor. He never suggested testing for osteoporosis. Instead, he delivered a grim prognosis: My bones would heal, but I wouldn’t be able to exercise or dance again. I was completely crushed—
I’d learned Indian dancing while
I was growing up, and I’ve always loved moving with a big group. I was already in constant physical pain, and this news just completely broke me down emotionally.
“When we moved back to the
States after about two years in Tokyo, my bones had healed and I’d been out of the brace for awhile—but my back still felt weak and unstable.
The following year, after my painful London vacation, I explained to another doctor how I was feeling, and he suggested running a bone-density scan. When we got the results, I was diagnosed with osteoporosis in my lower back, and a bone specialist prescribed medication that was intended to slow bone loss.
“This should have felt like a step forward, but my back was so weak that I was afraid to move much for fear of pain or reinjuring it. I finally had some answers, but I still felt powerless.
“Not content to sit around and wait for the medication to make me feel stronger, I did some research online and was surprised to find that Zumba, with all its stepping and stomping, can actually be good for preventing bone loss and building new bone. I’d done Zumba occasionally before my fall and had loved the music, the energy and being with others in a class, so I asked my doctor about it. She said Zumba could be helpful and that if I did it in combination with my medication, I would see results much faster. I decided to try a class at my local gym, Sport & Health in Bethesda.
“At first, I was very nervous and tentative, scared to do much more than walk in place. Still, I tried to go at least twice a week, and as I got more comfortable, I started trying more of the steps, taking care to keep my movements deliberate and not jump. After six weeks or so, I felt myself getting stronger. Even in everyday activities as simple as climbing stairs, I started to feel more balanced and not as unstable as I had been after my fall. My energy levels and endurance increased, and I noticed my focus did too. I found that Zumba kept me mentally agile; I was deeply engaged in following the steps, listening to the music and modifying where I had to.
“Last year, after I’d been doing Zumba for four or five months, my family took another vacation. Even though we did just as much walking as we had on our London trip, I was virtually pain-free. I’m thrilled to have dancing back in my life, and even more thrilled that Zumba is helping me overcome my osteoporosis. I feel stronger than ever!”
—as told to Alyssa Rosenthal
“I am virtually pain-free and stronger than ever! I’m thrilled that Zumba is helping me overcome my osteoporosis”