Heal O’ Israel, Children Who Dance in School Benefit Physically and Psychologically

Then Miriam the Neviah, Aharon’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her in dance with timbrels. Exodus 15:20 (The Israel Bible™)

I am a dance teacher in an arts school. I have always wondered why pupils in elementary and even high schools are not taught dance so they can move their bodies and learn to appreciate them. I see so many kids spending most of their time on their smartphones and in front of TV and computer screens instead of exercising outdoors. What do you think? P.D., San Francisco, California, US

Judy Siegel-Itzkovich comments:

You are absolutely right and speak perfect sense. Researchers in Finland have looked into this matter and report their findings. That country’s core curriculum encourages children to leave their desks and learn through physical activity and movement, but the process of adopting the new methods in practice is still in the early stages at schools.

It has become a global problem that not just adults, but children, too, are less and less physically active, according to experts at the the University of the Arts Helsinki. “Many children all over the world do not follow the national recommendations when it comes to physical activity. Negative perception of one’s physical competence reduces motivation for movement and exercise. Evaluation, comparisons and competitiveness connected to physical education may lead to negative experiences.”

According to the report called Tanssi Iikuttaa that was released by the ArtsEqual research initiative, many children and teenagers who dislike result-oriented physical activities enjoy forms of moving that allow more freedom, such as dance. “In bodily expression and dance, physical activity is combined with expressing feelings, social interaction and cultural participation, which creates a multidimensional link to one’s holistic development, learning and wellbeing in the school context. That is why dance can play a useful role even in preventing mental problems and social exclusion among children and teenagers,” the researchers wrote.

“Studies show that physical movement has positive effects on learning. It seems that the best way to boost cognitive performance is to engage in motorically challenging and versatile forms of physical activity, such as dance. Dancing together with peers also helps build children’s confidence. Dancing reduces prejudices towards bodily expressivity as well as the fear of performing. All in all, high-quality dance pedagogy has great potential in supporting children’s well-being at school.”

Observations organized by the ArtsEqual initiative in schools suggest that dance has a positive effect on social interaction, group spirit and sense of empowerment in groups where pupils do not have a common spoken language. Dance has also significantly improved group cohesion in grades one and two and in special education. Possibilities for participation and experiences of success promote pupils’ well-being and motivation to learn at school. This, in turn, prevents them from developing cynicism towards school and decreases their likelihood of becoming socially excluded later on as a teenager.

Dance is also connected to the development of social cognition and sense of empathy. These capabilities are valuable especially in terms of school atmosphere, tolerance of diversity, and prevention of bullying.


I am a 78-year-old woman living in the US. My husband, who is 80, has just been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. He suffers from coughing attacks and other symptoms and is on oxygen therapy and uses an inhaler. Can you suggest what is the most effective treatment for this? Thank you for your insight and advice. K.F.W., Omaha, Nebraska, US

Prof. Gabriel Izbicki, head of the lung institute at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center, answers:

They are many different kinds of pulmonary fibrosis. For each of them, the treatment is different. It might be smoking cessation for respiratory bronchiolitis-interstitial lung disease (RB-ILD); steroids for nonspecific interstitial pneumonia (NSIP); and anti-fibrotic therapy for usual interstitial pneumonia (UIP),  a form of lung disease characterized by progressive scarring of both lungs.

My first question is: How the diagnosis was made? Did he undergo a pulmonary biopsy? Was the diagnosis based on a high-resolution CT of the chest presented at a multi-disciplinary meeting?

Oxygen is indicated if the saturation is below 88%. Inhalers should be used only if there is an obstructive ventilation defect on the pulmonary lung function.

I am 70 years old, and my cartilage has been completely eaten up by arthritis in my right shoulder. I literally have bone on bone. Nevertheless, believe it or not, I am still playing tennis on a daily basis. Doctors are only recommending cortisone or platelet-rich plasma (PRP), but I haven’t gone for either of these. There has been some success with the Cartiva, an implant composed of a biocompatible, durable, slippery organic polymer that functions like natural cartilage, but my orthopedist told me it has been used until now only for the foot. Is there anything else I can do? I.W., the US

Dr. Steve Velkes, head of the orthopedic surgery and traumatology department at the Rabin Medical Center-Beilinson Campus in Petah Tikva, Israel, replies:

Unfortunately, there is no biological solution for cartilage loss due to arthritis of the shoulder. Steroid injections are only for pain and is temporary in effect. As for PRP and other so called biological regenerative treatments, there is no evidence to support their use.

The only reliable treatment would be shoulder replacement but if I.W. is still playing tennis with the shoulder, I do not believe he is a candidate at this stage for replacement, because he doesn’t suffer from enough pain to undergo this operation.

If you want an Israeli expert to answer your medical questions, write to Breaking Israel News health and science senior reporter Judy Siegel-Itzkovich at judy@israel365.com with your initials, age, gender and place of residence and details of the medical condition, if any.



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