By Kate Feinberg Robins, Ph.D.
At Find Your Center, our teaching is informed by research on learning and movement, as well as our many years of intensive training in the arts that we teach. For the next several blog posts, I'm putting on my cultural anthropologist hat to look at some of the research that helps us understand learning, movement, and the history of capoeira.
Developing healthy exercise habits in childhood is essential for preventing disease later in life. But for healthy habits to stick, they have to be culturally meaningful, socially viable, and supported by family and peers. For many children, capoeira is the perfect fit.
A 2013 study by Stanford University professor Kathryn Azevedo and colleagues found a Mexican folk dance program to be highly effective in increasing physical activity among low-income Latina girls. The cultural content led to increased parental involvement and “made cultural identity socially desirable.” Researchers found high rates of participation, improved social networks, and improved family cohesiveness. Most importantly, they succeeded in instilling healthy exercise habits in a population at high risk for childhood obesity.
Capoeira plays a similar role in communities throughout the world, bringing people together in supportive social environments where they practice healthy habits together with family and peers. Capoeira’s cultural content also instills pride in Latina/o and African American children, reinforcing their motivation to stay active.
If you have a child struggling to find the right sport to motivate healthy exercise habits, we invite you to give capoeira a try. From Bilingual Creative Movement classes for preschoolers to Teen/Adult Capoeira for older children, our curriculum at Find Your Center aims to instill cultural pride and physical and mental empowerment in children and adults of all ages.
This post looks at Azevedo and colleagues' 2013 article "Turn Off the TV and Dance! Participation in Culturally Tailored Health Interventions: Implications for Obesity Prevention among Mexican American Girls" in Ethnicity & Disease, 23(4), 452–461.