Research article
Volume 2, No. 1, 2010, 29-36
Maria Genti*, Dimitrios Goulimaris and Georgia Ioannidou
Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences,
Democritus University of Thrace, Greece
The aim of the study was to compare the cardio-respiratory responses of adult women,
which participated in aerobics exercising and traditional dancing programs. A total of 30 women,
aged 45±9,82 yrs, were participated in the study and divided in four groups according to their
involvement in the intervention programs. The cardio respiratory endurance of the participants
was evaluated by the use of 20m shuttle-run multistage fitness test (Tokmakidis,1992) and the
heart rate was recorded by the use of a portable heart rate tester (Polar Electron Sport tester 810).
The analysis of the data showed that there were no statistically significant differences concerning
the type of exercise (p>.05), but there were statistically significant differences between initial
and final measurements both in Greek traditional dancing and in aerobics program for both
experimental groups (p<.05). The above results shows that the participation in Greek traditional
dancing programs causes cardio respiratory responses similar to an aerobics program and it can
be used as an alternative type of exercise.
Keywords: Greek traditional dancing, aerobics, aerobic capacity
Occupying with physical activity and exercise considerably contributes in various ways to
an individualís (Wood, Reyes-Alvarez, Maraj, Metoyer & Welsch, 1997) fitness as well as to his
mental health, since with aerobics training the decrease of the brain tissue is kept under control, a
condition which already begins at the third decade of oneís life (Colombe, Ericson, Raz, Webb,
Cohen et al., 2002).
The benefits of the exercise are evident and the promotion of regular exercise constitutes a
necessary prerequisite for a satisfactory public health (Gravelle, Pare & Laurencelle, 1997). At the
* Corresponding author. Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences, Democritus University of Thrace,
Campus, Komotini, 69100, Greece, e-mail: info@chios-sunrise.gr
© 2010 Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, University of Novi Sad, Serbia
M. Genti et al.
organized exercise programs an effort is observed by the national and local organizations to
promote exercise in every age. The elderly people show a positive attitude towards exercise and
characterize it as ´good and beneficialª for them (Gravelle, Pare & Laurencelle, 1997). This type
of pastime not only helps prolong the normal function of their physiology but also helps to avoid
the feeling of depression which comes into being when they constantly remain at home and are
isolated by their social setting. It seems that, especially for the elderly people, the social contacts
in the exercise place contribute to a better quality of their life (McAuley, Blissmer, Marquez,
Jerome, Kramer et al., 2000).
The participation in group exercise programs helps satisfy the need for companionship and
communication, especially for the elderly people in a quite pleasant way. In a recent research
(McAuley et al., 2000) the effect of exercise on social relationships was studied. The study
results showed that exercise has a positive effect on the lessening of the feeling of loneliness and
on the increase of happiness. However, in another study (Schneider, 1996) the women who work
out claimed that after the completion of the program they drew support by their co-trainees and
that the group programs gave them a feeling of companionship while exercising.
Aerobics is considered to be an integral constituent part of a complete rehabilitation
program and of everyday practice because of the beneficial physiological adjustments it offers
both to healthy people and to those who experience some disease (Babyak, Blumenthal, Herman,
Khatri, Doraiswamy et al., 2000).
However, while the purpose of practice is by far the appeasement and the promotion of
good mood, if the difficulty degree is excessive for the trainee, it can lead him to abandon the
attempt. At the same time, he can feel disappointment as he has not been able to fulfill all its
requirements. This is most probable for the elderly people (Farmer, Lock, Mosciki, Dannenberg,
Larson et al., 1988) where encouragement and motives for occupation with exercise are more
Most of the existent studies,( Koutedakis & Jamurtas, 2004; Silvestri & Oescher, 1990)
which pertain to aerobics focus on the adjustments of cardio respiratory function as its
improvement reduce the possibility of presenting cardiovascular diseases. The studies were
applied mostly to adults and the positive effect of aerobics was found not only on cardio
respiratory capacity but also on the remaining physical abilities
(Beniamini, Rubenstein,
Zaichkowsky & Crim, 1997). Moreover, aerobics positively influences the psychology of adult
people by expelling stress (Watterson, 1984).
Aerobics is a form of exercise particularly popular in the last decades not only in womenís
population, as it used to be, but also in the male population and the children since through its
various types it has succeeded in winning their interest and regular attendance
McAuley, Demetriou, Devabhaktuni, Dykstra et al., 1999). The content of aerobics contributes to
the improvement of health rates since it is in such way built as to offer mostly practice of cardio
respiratory endurance, improvement of muscular strength and endurance and increase of
flexibility. However, nowadays the various forms of aerobics have developed and reformed so as
to serve the different needs of the people who work out (Williford, Scharff-Olson & Blessing,
The use of music which is an indispensable part of this form of exercise causes to those
who work out pleasant emotions, euphoria and influences positively their psychology expelling
every negative emotion such as stress and it drives them to adopt exercise for life (Kriska,
Hanley, Harris & Zinman, 2001).
More and more part of the Greek population is seeking out ways of exercising in order to
improve their body fitness and also get the chance for social contact and appeasement from their
daily routine. As a form of exercise particularly appealing to both men and women, Greek
traditional dancing could satisfy their expectations as far as the body robustness and spiritual
The effects of aerobics and Greek traditional dances
euphoria is concerned. Furthermore, the effects of aerobics on womenís mood remain for the
next 24 hours (Pitsi, 2002). Something similar occurs with the group aerobics programs carried
out by private and public gyms since, just like traditional dancing, they offer rhythm and music.
For this reason the quest of a Greek traditional dancing program which for its design
takes into consideration the conditions of an aerobics program ( in terms of duration and
intervals between the class segments ) leads to the realization of the present study so as to make
possible the comparison of the two forms of exercise. Thus, the aim of the present research was
to study the influence of exercise on cardio respiratory adjustments of adult women who
participate in aerobics and Greek dancing programs. Comparing the types of exercise the
possibility of choosing dancing as an alternative form of exercise is investigated.
The sample of the study were 30 adult women, 10 of those composed the Greek
traditional dancing group which followed the intervention program, 10 composed the aerobics
group which followed the corresponding intervention program while 5 persons for each group
composed the control group. The two experimental groups followed the program which was
created in order for the study to be carried out while the two control groups followed typical
Greek traditional dancing and aerobics classes. The sample was chosen using the method of
random sampling.
The women who constituted the four groups participated in traditional dancing and
aerobics classes for at least two years respectively. A necessary prerequisite for their attendance
in the study was their level of dancing experience and occupation with group aerobics programs
respectively. The participants should afford to perform the programs, which they took part in, in
their regular form without having the need of tuition so as the most uniform performance of the
programs would be accomplished.
Table 1
Physiological characteristics of the sample in each group separately
Greek Dances
Greek Dances
Age years
Height cm
165 ± 2,5
168 ± 8,5
165± 8
167± 6
Weight kg
64± 6,023
66± 4,67
63,5± 4,263
70,9± 3,302
181± 7,99
176,8± 6,193
173,88± 5,65
172,1± 4,379
VO2max mlkgmin
30,6± 2,939
29,6± 2,227
34,1± 2,078
33,2± 1,610
Study design
Dancing has been evaluated in relation to its intensity as a percentage of the maximum cardiac
rate (Pitsi, Smilio, Tokmakidis, Serbezis & Goulimaris, 2008) (Table 2).
M. Genti et al.
Table 2.
Grouping of the 24 dances according to their intensity as a percentage of ( HRmax)
(Pitsi et al., 2008).
(55-63% HRmax)
(64-69% HRmax)
(74-86% HRmax)
Mperati of Hepirus
Syrtos Sygathistos
Sta tria
Mperati of Thessali
Zervos Karpathou
Trehatos ñ Raikos
Sousta of Crete
The dancing intervention program was organized and lasted for 12 weeks. It was applied
twice in a week and each class lasted for 55 minutes.
As far as the group that followed the intervention aerobics program is concerned, during
the laying out of the program, the adjustment of intensity was modulated in accordance with the
intensity which was used in the corresponding Greek traditional dancing programs. Thus, it was
possible to compare the adjustments that are caused by the application of these two different
forms of exercise since the intensity was the same during their implementation.
Subsequently, for the creation of the dancing sequence specific factors should have been
taken into account such as the representation of each region or social group. Moreover, the
popularity degree of each dance should have been taken into account, that is, how prevalent it is
in the region, and the representation of the metrical design and of the motor motifs. Finally, the
difficulty degree which was defined by complexity and organization (Serbezis & Goulimaris,
2002) should have been counted.
The duration of the intervention program was 55 minutes as it is standard in a typical
Greek traditional dancing class and in a typical aerobics hour. Warming up of the program lasted
for 7-10 minutes and dancing was used in terms of aerobics program. The choice of dancing for
the creation of the Greek traditional dancing program was made by a sum of 24 dances (Table 2).
Each one of the 24 programs which created, were slightly modified as far as the dancing
repertoire is concerned so that classes during the twelve weeks would not be unvaried. However,
all of them followed the same pattern as far as the intensity is concerned ´low ñ moderate ñ high
ñ moderate - lowª. The most usual choice of dancing for warming up was the following:
Pogonisios, Berati Hpeirou, Berati Thessalias, and Tsakonikos. The essential part of dancing
class lasted for 35-40 minutes. The most usual choice of dancing for relaxation was: Tik, Thipat,
and Sta Tria.
During the laying out of the aerobics program, the intensity was adjusted in accordance to
the corresponding intensity which was defined for the Greek traditional dancing program. Thus,
The effects of aerobics and Greek traditional dances
an aerobics program with rather simple choreography was chosen but there was an emphasis on
intensity which ranged from 135 to 145 heart beats per minute.
The form of the aerobics program of moderate intensity included warming up, the main
part and relaxation as a usual aerobics program does. The main part of the aerobics intervention
program included: pre-cardio, main aerobics part, post-cardio and muscle strength while in
relaxation flexing exercises were performed.
Assessment of physiological responses
Having been familiarized with the whole experimental procedure, and after their signed
consent, each trainee came to the indoor university gym of DPESS at The Democritus University
of Thrace in order to undergo the20 meters shuttle run test the intensity of which gradually
increased (Tokmakidis, 1992) to evaluate the cardio respiratory endurance. The 20m shuttle-run
multistage fitness endurance test is reliable (r=0.97) and valid (r=0.96) as far as the prediction of
VO2max is concerned. The test consisted of 20 stages and was performed in a designated area of
20 meters length. The women who worked out ran for as long as they could, following the
rhythm dictated by characteristic sounds in predetermined temporal intervals. The sounds that
determined the rhythm came from the specific test recording tape. The initial speed corresponded
to 7Km/h-1 and increased every two minutes by 1Km/h-1. The women who worked out controlled
their speed passing through just at the time that the audio signal was sounded by the visible signs
of 20 meters. The duration of the test was relative to the physical fitness of each trainee. In case
of inability to complete the run of 20 meters at the expected time based on the audio signals, the
trainee stopped the trial and the stage at which she ended her try was recorded as her
performance. During the whole procedure there was continuous monitoring and recording of
each womanís heart beat with the Polar S810 monitor system of telemetric control.
Statistical analysis
For the presentation of the results a descriptive statistic was used
(average, standard
deviation). A two factor (type of exercise × measurement) variance analysis with the second
factor being repeated (two ñ way ANOVA repeated measures analysis) was used so as to find the
differences in cardio respiratory endurance before and after the application of the intervention
programs. The significant level was set as p<.05.
Physiological responses
The two-way analysis of variance with the repeated measures on the second factor showed
that in the 20m shuttle-run fitness test there was a statistically significant effect of the factor
measurement [F(1,20) = 1,081, p<.05)] while there was no statistically significant effect of the
factor type of exercise [F(3,20) = 0,86, p>.05)].
M. Genti et al.
Table 3
Mean scores and typical deviations of shuttle-run multistage fitness test during 1st and 2nd
measurement of the four groups
1st Measurement
2nd Measurement
Greek Dances (Controlled)
± 0,95
± 0,73
Greek Dances (Interval)
± 0,67
± 0,513
Aerobic (Controlled)
± 0,732
± 0,56
Aerobic (Interval)
± 0,52
± 0,39
As far as the heart beat is concerned, the two factor variance analysis with the second
factor being repeated showed that there was a statistically significant effect of the factor
measurement [F(1,20) = 11,34 , p<.05)] while there was no statistically significant effect of the
factor type of exercise [F(3,20) = 3,385, p>.05)].
Table 4
Mean scores and typical deviations of HR during 1st and 2nd measurement of the four groups
HR (beat/min)
1st Measurement
2nd Measurement
Greek Dances (Controlled)
± 7,99
± 7,73
Greek Dances (Interval)
± 5,7
± 5,47
Aerobic (Controlled)
± 6,193
± 5,98
Aerobic (Interval)
± 4,38
± 4,23
The results of the present study showed that the cardio respiratory function of the
participants in the two experimental groups improved in comparison to the control group and the
intervention program, irrespective of the type of exercise, played a decisive part in improving the
physiological responses.
During the programs the women who participated both in Greek dancing and in aerobics
programs exercised at an intensity level of 60% HR and 50% VO2max. Exercise at this level can
cause adjustments (ACSM, 2006; Wigaeus & Kildom, 1980). Moreover, previous studies
(Zografou & Chysovoulos, 1989) showed that occupying with traditional dancing can cause
physiological adjustments, but also foreign researchers who dealt with other forms of dancing
(Leger & Gadourg, 1989; Cohen, Segal, Witriol & McArdle, 1982; Clarkson & Skrinar, 1988)
came to the same conclusions.
The effects of aerobics and Greek traditional dances
After having studied the physiological responses of the women during the twelve weeks it
was found that VO2max from initial to final measurement increases for all groups especially to the
two intervention groups. On the contrary, a decrease in HRmax can be observed that is something
which indicates the improvement of womenís physical fitness.
From the results of the present study it is evident that occupying with Greek traditional
dancing causes similar cardio respiratory adjustments to an aerobics program. Thus, traditional
dancing can be used as an alternative form of exercise and offer similar physiological benefits to
those benefits derived from aerobics. The intervention time of the exercise programs (12 weeks)
worked positively since the results of the second measurement were higher than the first. Both
forms of exercise seem to encourage social contact in the training place and help trainees retain
their energy and have better mood.
In conclusion, according to the results of the present study it seems that Greek traditional
dancing can constitute a part of group programs of a gym. For a group of people who feel
particularly friendly towards Greek cultural tradition such an exercise program would be a
pleasant type of exercise, which people of every age could attend easily.
American College of Sports Medicine. (2006) ACSMís Guidelines for exercise testing and
prescription ( 7th ed). Philadelphia: Lipincott, Williams & Wilkins.
Babyak, M., Blumenthal J. A., Herman S., Khatri P., Doraiswamy, M., Moore K. et al. (2000).
Exercise treatment for major depression maintenance of therapeutic benefit at 10 months.
Psychosomatic Medicine, 62(5), 633-638.
Beniamini, Y., Rubenstein J., Zaichkowsky, L. & Crim, M. (1997). Effects of high intensity
strength training on quality of life parameters in cardiac rehabilitation patients. American
journal of cardiology, 80(7), 841-846.
Boileau R., McAuley, E., Demetriou, D., Devabhaktuni, Dykstra L., Katula J., et al. (1999).
Aerobic exercise training and cardiorespiratory fitness in older adults: a
randomized control trial. Journal of aging and physical activity, 7, 374-38.
Clarkson, P. M., & Skrinar M. (1988). Science of dance training. Champaign, Ill: Human
Cohen, J. L., Segal, K. R., Witriol, I., & McArdle, W. (1982). Cardiorespiratory responses to
ballet exercise and the VO2max of elite dancers. Medicine and Science in Sports and
Exercise, 14(3), 212-217.
Farmer, M. E., Locke, B. Z., Moscicki, E. K., Dannenberg, A. L., Larson, D. B., & Radloff, L. S.
(1988). Physical activity and depressive symptoms : The NHANES I epidemiological follow-
up study. American Journal of Epidemiology, 128, 1340-1351.
Gravelle, F., Pare, C., & Laurencelle L. (1997). Attitude and enduring involvement of older adults in
structured programmes of physical activity. Perceptual and Motor skills, 85, 67-71.
Koutedakis, Y., & Jamurtas, A. (2004). The dancer as a performing athlete. Sports Medicine, 34(10),
Kriska, A. M., Hanley, A. J., Harris, S. B., & Zinman, B. (2001). Physical activity,
physical fitness, and insulin and glucose concentrations in an isolated Native
Canadian population experiencing rapid life style change. Diabetes care, 24(10),
M. Genti et al.
Leger, L. A. (1989). Energy cost of disco dancing. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport,
McAuley, E., Blissmer B., Marquez, D. X., Jerome, G. J., Kramer A. F., & Katula, J. (2000).
Social relations, physical activity and well-being in older adults. Preventive medicine,
31(5), 608-617.
McAuley, E., Marquez, D. X., Jerome, G. J., Blissmer, B., & Katula, J. (2002). Physical activity and
physique anxiety in older adults: fitness, and efficacy influences. Aging Mental Health, 6(3),
Pitsi, A. (2002). Physiological responses during the performance of Greek traditional dances by
middle aged people. Master Thesis, Department of Physical Education and Sport
Sciences, Democritus University of Thrace, Greece.
Pitsi, A., Smilios, H., Tokmakidis S., Serbezis, V., & Goulimaris, D. (2008). Heart rate and
oxygen consumption of middle aged people during the performance of Greek traditional
dances. Research in Physical education and sports, 6(3), 329-339.
Schneider, J. (1996). Qualitative descriptors of exercise in older women. Journal of Aging and
Physical Activity, 4(3), 251-263.
Serbezis, V., & Goulimaris, D. (2002). To a scientific teaching of Greek traditional dancing.
Sports and Society, 29, 54-61.
Silvestri, L., & Oescher, J. (1990). Use of aerobic dance and light weights in improving selected
measures of strength, endurance and flexibility. Perceptual and Motor skills, 70, 595-600.
Tokmakidis, S. (1992). EUROFIT (EUROTEST): For the evaluation of physical condition.
Thessalonika: Salto.
Watterson, V. V.
(1984). The effects of aerobic dance on cardiovascular fitness.
Physician and Sports Medicine, 12(10), 138-145.
Wigaeus, E., & Kilbom, A. (1980). Physical demands during folk dancing. European
Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational. Physiology, 45(2-3),177-183.
Williford, H. N, Scharff-Olson, M., & Blessing, D. L. (1989). The physiological effects of
aerobic dance: A review. Sports Medicine, 8(6), 335-345.
Wood, R., Reyes-Alvarez, R., Maraj, B., Metoyer, K., & Welsch, M. (1997). Physical fitness,
cognitive function and health-related quality of life in older adults. Journal of Aging and Physical
Activity, 7, 217-230.
Zografou, M., & Chysovoulos, G. (1989). Biological demands of Greek traditional dances.
Physical Education and Sports, 26, 3-9.
Submitted November 25, 2009
Accepted January 27, 2010