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First For Women - - Contents -

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.

Strong again!

“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”

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