The  “Dance for Health.”is perceived as one way of encouraging kids to fight diabetes which afflicts more than 18 million Americans.

Terri Lipman of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing said this unique upbeat program can improve physical activity among school-age children, with the goal of lowering the risk for obesity, a key factor in Type 2 diabetes.

This is a joint project with the Sayre High School and Bernett Johnson Sayre Health Center.

Busting hip-hop moves across a wooden gym floor, the Sayre High School dance team led children through one hour of dancing weekly for one month. Using pedometers, the research team found that the students averaged twice as many steps on days they danced.

At the same time, says Dr. Lipman, the children had elevated resting heart rates after exercise, indicating that they were not physically fit.

Through Dance for Health, Dr. Lipman aims to change this notion.

Dancing is not only free, culturally relevant, and fun,” says Dr. Lipman.

It is also an easily accessible way for children to lead a more active lifestyle. Through this program, we aim to promote to schools and health care providers the benefits of incorporating dance into children’s lives to improve their overall health.”

The partnership between Penn Nursing and Sayre High School, which Dr. Lipman established in 2005, has yielded other benefits.

Penn-Sayre programs have enabled student nurses to educate the neighboring community — demographically at high risk for diabetes — about prevention through good nutrition, exercise, and recognition of warning signs.

In addition to taking basic measurements such as weight, height, and waist circumference, the students also check for acanthosis nigricans, a darkening of the skin associated with obesity and diabetes.