Spreading fun and fitness through dance

Posted: July 21, 2013

In a hall full of Ph.D.s and nursing students presenting findings at last week's annual pediatric nursing conference, a just-graduated high school student stood out.

Daniel Sultan, 18, who graduated from Sayre High School in West Philadelphia in June, has long been active in his community. That's partly why he was chosen to take part in a joint research project with the University of Pennsylvania.

Sultan participated in a study called "Dance for Health: Increasing Fitness and Fun in the Community," which won first prize against 35 others at the 29th annual pediatric nursing conference in Center City last weekend. The program invited children and their families to a weekly dance class for five weeks. Sultan took weight and heart-rate readings of the participants and did surveys to see if the dancers were having a good time. "I just wanted to be involved in my community," Sultan said. "I wanted to teach folks what I knew, and be part of a solution."

The study drew 107 participants, ages 5 to 78, mostly women and all African American. There wasn't much weight loss over five weeks, but the participants did note how the routine got eaiser by the fourth week. A larger study last year showed adult women lost an average of some 21/2 pounds by the fourth week. And while the study is over, participants are still dancing.

"There just aren't enough opportunities for older people" to exercise, Sultan said. "It's easy for young people to just go to a basketball court and run. But a lot of the time, things have to be presented for adults."

Sultan said the work has led him to pursue a nursing degree at the Community College of Philadelphia.

Another Sayre student, Corey Scott, 17, presented work from another joint effort gaving nutritional information to West Philadelphia communities. "I wasn't nervous," Scott laughed. "It's easy when you've been doing it for so long and you know a lot about it."


Contact Curtis Skinner at 215-854-2930 or cskinner@philly.com, or follow him on Twitter @CurtisOrion.

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