“Ditch the Workout- Join the Party!” Many of us have heard this Marketing slogan for the hot and ever so popular fitness class Zumba®, but can you be a part of the party AND still get a great workout? Inquiring minds want to know! With that question posed, the American Council on Exercise (ACE®) commissioned Dr. Pocari and his team at the University of Wisconsin- LaCrosse’s Department of Exercise and Sport Science to get the facts about the effectiveness of this Latin-inspired dance-fitness workout currently being performed by more than 12 million people worldwide!
This ACE-sponsored research study was designed to determine the average exercise intensity and energy expenditure of a Zumba Fitness® class. All 19 subjects in this study were healthy females, ranging in age from 18-22 years old, and each had previous experience taking Zumba Fitness® classes. Once a baseline of fitness was established for the study subjects (using a maximal treadmill test that measured both heart rate and oxygen consumption), each subject participated in a single Zumba session while equipped with a heart-rate monitor. While the exact length of the class varied depending on which day it was conducted (class lengths were anywhere from 32 to 52 minutes each), the same Zumba-certified instructor taught all of the sessions.
Upon reviewing and calculating all of the data, the researchers found that participating in a single Zumba Fitness® class burned on average 9.5kcal per minute, making it both a fun AND effective workout! In fact, Zumba Fitness® classes have been shown to burn, on average, more calories per minute than other popular group fitness classes, such as step aerobics, Pilates, hooping and power yoga, formats which the team at the University of Wisconsin- LaCrosse have also conducted research studies for.
With that being said, researchers concluded that Zumba Fitness® classes can serve as an excellent way to improve cardiorespiratory fitness while also positively affecting body composition, in addition to strengthening the core and improving flexibility with the numerous hip and midsection movements included in these classes. It is, however, important to keep in mind that depending on the choreography and the instructor there can be a wide range of intensity for Zumba® classes, just like any other group fitness modality.
The bottom line is when it comes to long-term adherence to regular exercise the enjoyment factor is key, and Zumba® has proven that there’s no shortage of fun in these high-energy (and effective) classes!
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