Aesthetics or your personal preferences aside, who do you think is in better physical condition,  international ballet dancers or international swimmers?  

A study led by Professor Tim Watson and Dr Andrew Garrett of University of Hertfordshire involved comparing members of the Royal Ballet and English National Ballet School with a squad of British National and International Swimmers, including members of the Olympic squad.

The results will be announced at the University’s Health and Human Sciences Research Institute Showcase but we'll go ahead and tell you here:  ballet dancers.

ballet dancer
Sorry, swimmers.

The investigation looked at a range of ‘fitness’ testing including strength, endurance, balance, flexibility and psychological state amongst others, enabling an individual ‘fitness profile’ to be constructed. 

Of the ten most important measures of fitness employed, the ballet dancers had stronger scores in seven of them when taking into account body size. Ballet dancers were some 25% stronger when tested for grip strength for example. 

"The results reveal the very different physical make-up of the two types of athletes" commented Professor Watson “and when it comes to training and recovery from injury, it is critical to know precisely the fitness profile needed by the participant in any physical activity. 

warming up for the ballet dancer fitness test
Warm-up for the fitness test.  Credit: University of Hertfordshire

“The individuals fitness training must cater for the varying demands of their ‘performance’ and should an injury occur, the treatment and rehabilitation that takes place must match the demands that they are going to put on their body when they return – or else further injury is highly likely”

The full results will be revealed on Thursday 23rd October during the University of Hertfordshire’s Health and Human Sciences Research Institute Showcase week which runs from 21-24 October at the University’s de Havilland campus.