Native Hawaiians combat a number of health issues, including hypertension. The University of Hawaii conducted a five-year study centering on how consistent use of the hula could help this population lower blood pressures and hence reduce the risk of heart disease. The results were good.
The University researchers enrolled 263 Native Hawaiians from nine communities on three islands. Each group was given three-hour sessions of hypertension education and information on diet, exercise, and use of medications. Each participant was randomly assigned to a control group that received no additional intervention or to a hula intervention group. The hula is a native Polynesian form of dance.
Patients interviewed reported significant results. In fact, one participant, Arma Oana, reported, “I don’t want to say I would be dead, but I would have had a heart attack or stroke by now, because I know exactly what I didn’t do.” Oana continued, “I didn’t exercise until I came to the program. I didn’t think I could.” Another participant, Luana Albino, saw her “blood pressure and diabetes go down.”
Keawe‘aimoku Kaholokula, chair of the medical school’s Department of Native Hawaiian Health