no sunlight

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There’s a running joke amongst us “dancer folk” poking fun at the ghostly pale ballerina complexion, a trademark only achieved by spending every last hour of daylight in the studio.  At FBP we even (lovingly) refer to the black-box-conversion studio as “the dungeon”, thanks to two thick, black curtains that block out any and all eager little rays of sunshine attempting to stretch their warmth down into the building.  But are our many days spent under fluorescents instead of sunlight putting us in danger?  New studies say they could be, and here’s why…

The sun provides us with an essential nutrient that contributes to high serotonin levels, strong bones, healthy hearts and even boosting the immune system: Vitamin D.  The crucial vitamin notes treating weak bones, bone pain, and bone loss as some of its main benefits, with aiding in muscle weakness and arthritis not far behind.  These are all issues that dancers deal with daily!  A study conducted for the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport followed 24 dancers at the Birmingham Royal Ballet as they danced between 6 and 8 hours a day (totalling nearly 38 hours a week).  The results revealed all of the dancers as being either Vitamin D deficient or insufficient in the winter months, with only a mere 15 % of the group sustaining normal levels of Vitamin D during the summer months.

After giving half of the dancers Vitamin D supplements and studying the effects, the results were too dramatic to go unreported.  The dancers taking supplements showed increased muscle strength, improved vertical jump performance, and perhaps most notably, they  suffered fewer injuries.  Of the 17 dancers taking Vitamin D, 12 claimed to be injury-free and only 5 reported sustaining 1 injury.  Of the dancers not taking the supplement, only 1 was found injury-free, with 5 others sustaining 1 injury, and 1 dancer suffering 2.

There were a lot of numbers being thrown around there, but what you really need to know here is that although the group of dancers being assessed in this study was small, the results are still convincing, and our next move is obvious: it’s time to take charge of our Vitamin D-intake.  If it can’t soften our vampire-like skin tones, at least it can protect us from injury.  So, spread the word, tell your mom, tell your teacher, tell your brother, sister, friend, cousin, dad, grandma, and her poodle.  Vitamin D supplements for all!

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4 thoughts on “no sunlight

    • Hi Anne,
      Most ballet studios have a few windows to let sunlight in (and some are lucky enough to have quite large windows at that), but most require alternative lighting for those times of day when natural light is less favorable (i.e. rainy days, after sundown, and when the sun is low in the sky and can be blinding for the dancers). I wish we could harness that sunlight and keep it steadily beating down into the studio at that perfect angle all day and night! Maybe in the future someone will discover a way to make this possible…until then, we’re stuck with fluorescents.

  1. Useful info for the dance world.

    May I suggest an outdoor easy thing? Cycling at a slow, relaxed rate on paths is relaxing and gives you sunshine. After all joggers, switch to cycling because it’s not demanding on their knees, joints. Just make sure the bike fits you properly.

    Yes, I know walking /hiking achieves the same thing. But it takes longer to get somewhere. :) That’s why I bike…I get somewhere faster …no matter how slowly I bike. (which in the winter I have to)

    • Thank you, Jean! I do love biking, with it’s low impact on bones and the fun of going downhill- it’s a great way to exercise! Thanks for the suggestion.

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