Recently the World Anti-Doping Agency WADA released details for the 2017 Prohibited List, which will come into effect on 1 January 2017. If you have read part 1 and part 2 of this series of blogs, you might be thinking that illegal doping to enhance sports performance is only of relevance to elite sport. Equally that the discussion of TUEs is only related to elite athletes. Well this blog will explore whether that is the case…
I am writing from a medical perspective based on my experience of working on the international medical research team that investigated the development of dope test for growth hormone GH, supported by the IOC.
The list issued by UK Anti-Doping UKAD of athletes banned from competition due to taking illegal performance enhancing drugs dispels the assumption that doping is confined to elite athletes. Indeed it is concerning that the list is substantial and includes a range of athletes from teenagers to age groupers across a variety of sports. Consider that this only shows results from sports where drug testing takes place.
As discussed in a recent article in British Medical Journal BMJ, there are an estimated 3 million anabolic steroid users in Europe alone. These users may not necessarily be involved in sports where drug testing takes place. From a medical point of view there is the concern of long term, irreversible adverse effects on health: cardiac, hepatic, psychiatric and reproductive complications.
Although professional dance can be viewed as an art form, rather than a sport, the increased technical requirements together with extended rehearsal and performance schedules place high physical and psychological demands on dancers, similar to elite athletes. In a recent article in the Dance Gazette there is discussion of “performance enhancement in dance being more about survival than competitive edge”. Unlike sport, in classical dance there is a difference between female dancers who might dope in order to reduce body weight and male dancers looking for means to improve muscle strength.
The show must go on but the aim should be to strive for clean sport and to safeguard the health of athletes.
Ballet is an excellent way for people of all ages to improve mobility and build strength.
Furthermore, if athletes take Ballet classes then this can aid in injury prevention. Ballet incorporates all the elements of a balanced training session improving core strength, muscle tone, muscle dynamics, flexibility, neuromuscular skills and proprioception. Taking Ballet class also provides an interesting challenge both mentally and physically as described in amina sana corpore sano. Ballet offers something different to the usual strength and conditioning training sessions taken by athletes.
Development of neuromuscular skills is vital for young people not only for physical fitness and enabling sports performance, but to enhance cognitive ability, both in short and long term.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommend that if you are tempted to try Ballet, make sure you go to a class where the teacher can ensure you learn proper technique. I teach Ballet, backed up with my experience in sport medicine and Pilates, in small class setting for individual attention and correction. Whatever your previous dance experience or current level of fitness: are you ready for the challenge and some fun?
Why not give both your body and brain a workout simultaneously? Recall sequences of steps and translate into movement with musicality and expression. Challenge mind and body by taking a Ballet class. Develop and maintain a healthy mind in a healthy body.
A healthy mind in a healthy body: the WHO (World Health Organisation) defines health as a positive state, incorporating the elements of physical, mental and social health, not simply the absence of disease.
Medical evidence demonstrates that exercise is beneficial for the cardio vascular, respiratory, metabolic, endocrine and musculoskeletal systems. It also enhances wellbeing, through the release of endorphins.
Longer term interaction of physical and mental health is now being reported more in scientific journals and the press. Exercise has a long term positive effect on mental health. Exercise is a modifiable lifestyle factor that can decrease the risk of cognitive decline by 18-30%. The mechanism is thought to be related to blood flow to areas of the brain associated with memory.