NEW YORK – Looking to get in shape without going to the gym? Sonia Sotomayor’s got an idea for you.
The first Latina Supreme Court Justice recommended dancing salsa daily as a way to keep fit during a talk Saturday with journalist Maria Hinojosa at New York’s El Museo del Barrio to promote her new autobiography, My Beloved World.
“As Latinos, we do a lot of salsa, and that’s healthy,” Sotomayor said. If every Latin couple danced an hour of salsa after dinner, Sotomayor speculated, it would work wonders for the community’s health.
“What do you think they’re doing in the gyms right now?” She asked, referring to the rising popularity of zumba and other dance classes. “They’re doing salsa!”
Diagnosed with juvenile diabetes as an 8-year-old child in 1962, back when insulin-dependent diabetics had to sterilize their needles over boiling water, Sotomayor learned from a young age to make her health a priority.
But an alarming rise in childhood obesity in recent years makes it clear that many in the Latino community fail to exercise enough or eat healthy foods.
Latino children between the ages 6 and 11 are 1.3 times more likely to be overweight than their non-Hispanic white peers, according to a 2010 study by the National Hispanic Caucus of Legislators. The same study found that Latinos are 10 percent more likely to be overweight than non-Hispanic whites.
“We have children developing adult onset diabetes,” Sotomayor said. “Those statistics are going to limit our opportunities more than our poverty.”
Sotomayor encouraged the crowd to turn the pattern around, saying that nothing makes her feel better than eating healthily and working out.
“When my spirits are down, I exercise,” Sotomayor said. With a dark blue dress that revealed her muscular legs up to mid-thigh, it was clear she was telling the truth.
Check out one 9-year-old who's using salsa to keep in shape in the video below.