If you’ve ever thought that sticking to an exercise routine would be easier if it was also fun, then Zumba® may be exactly what the doctor ordered. Zumba is a dance-fitness craze founded in 2001 that uses upbeat Latin and other international music (such as salsa, merengue, mambo, flamenco, chachacha, reggaeton, hip hop and African rhythms) to get a full body workout. According to Zumba, 14 million people get fit with Zumba, participating in weekly classes across 185 countries and 140,000 locations.
A Workout Disguised as a Party
Studies have shown that if people have fun performing an exercise routine they will continue to do it and Zumba, a workout disguised as a dance party, has reached a global audience with its motto, “Ditch the workout – join the party!”
A recent study funded by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) shows that the Zumba craze is not only fun but also an effective workout. The study found that a single Zumba fitness class (average class length in the study was approximately 39 minutes) burned an average of 369 calories or about 9.5 kcal per minute.
ACE commissioned the Exercise and Sport Science department at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse to conduct the study with a group of college-age women who had experience working out with Zumba.
“What we found was that the participants on the average had a heart rate set at 154 beats per minute which correspond to about 80 percent of the maximum heart rates,” says Cedric X. Bryant, Ph.D., FACSM, chief science officer at ACE.
“The calories burned were about 9.5 calories per minute which actually indicates that the participants were able to get a sufficient dose of exercise to produce significant improvements in both cardiovascular fitness and body composition.”
Maintain Bone Density
Bryant said that even though Zumba is low-impact, it’s also weight bearing meaning that if you’re a woman over 40, Zumba helps maintain optimal bone density. You can also follow a Zumba class at your own pace and build up to a more intense workout.
“The surprising thing is that it doesn’t matter what fitness level you’re at—our research shows that with Zumba everyone is working out at the zone that’s recommended for improving cardio health,” says lead researcher Mary Luettgen, M.S. “Both fit people and less-fit people are going to get an equally good workout.
You can find different types of Zumba classes, for women, men and even kids. Some of the classes (in addition to regular Zumba) are Zumba Gold (targeted to the over 50 crowd), Zumba Gold Toning (muscle workout using toning sticks for the over 50 crowd),
Aqua Zumba (classes in a swimming pool) and Zumba Sentao (use a chair as your dance partner).
The study also found that Zumba is right in line with the calorie burning potential of many other forms of exercise including step aerobics, Pilates, kickboxing and power yoga.
“You’re engaging so much of the body in this kind of rhythmic dance fashion, you know one would expect to expend a reasonable level of energy, says Bryant. “It’s just nice that people are able to do it while also having fun.”