Posted: Aug 15, 2012 in

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Aug. 15, 2012) – An independent study commissioned by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) found that Zumba® burns a significant amount of calories due to its level of cardiovascular intensity, making it an effective way to lose weight and improve aerobic efficiency.


The study, conducted by a team of exercise scientists from the Department of Exercise and Sport Science at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, sought to determine the average exercise intensity and energy expenditure of participants in a typical Zumba class.


The group dance-fitness program, which reports 12 million class participants in 110,000 locations across 125 countries, was identified as one of the most popular workout programs in ACE’s 2012 Fitness Trends to Watch.


Exercise physiologists began the study using a test group of 19 healthy females ranging in age from 18 to 22, all of whom had prior experience in a Zumba class. To establish a baseline of fitness, study subjects each performed a maximal treadmill test to measure their heart rate (HR) and oxygen consumption. They then completed a single Zumba class – all taught by the same instructor – while wearing a heart-rate monitor.


All participants reached a heart rate maximum of 80 percent – an average of 154 beats per minute - which is well within industry guidelines suggested to improve cardiovascular fitness. Class participants also burned an average of 9.5 calories per minute.


That’s more calories per minute than power yoga, cardio kickboxing, step aerobics and even advanced Pilates group classes, which were all previously tested by University of Wisconsin La-Crosse researchers.


“Just like the participants, we were surprised at how effective Zumba is in terms of its calorie-burning potential,” said ACE Chief Science Officer Dr. Cedric Bryant. “Zumba has built an entire culture around having fun and engaging participants in this party-like atmosphere, but until now, little research has been conducted to test its effectiveness.”


Aside from its calorie-burning potential, Bryant said, Zumba is such a fun and engaging activity that many participants don’t even realize they’re expending a high amount of energy.


“The participants perceived the workout to be much less challenging than it actually was, which we believe is the sign the fun factor of a Zumba workout provides a positive distraction,” Bryant said. “The No. 1 reason people give for not engaging in physical activity on a regular basis is the perceived lack of time. I would argue that we find time to do things that we deem fun and engaging.”


“Our study concludes that Zumba classes can be a high-intensity cardiovascular workout for many, but we also want to note the importance of instructor expertise to ensure maximum safety for participants,” said Bryant. “As part of ACE’s mission to offer unparalleled fitness professional training, we’ve developed the Group Exercise Leadership Specialty Certification to help Zumba instructors and other niche exercise professionals supplement their skills with the foundations of exercise and movement science. A safe, fun and effective workout combines the perfect ingredients for long-lasting results.”


Learn more about the specialty certification or download a full copy of the Zumba study by visiting the ACE website.



About ACE
American Council on Exercise (ACE), America’s premier fitness and personal trainer certification, continuing education, and training organization, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the benefits of physical activity and protecting Americans against unsafe and ineffective fitness products and instruction.  ACE sponsors university-based fitness and exercise science research studies and is the world’s largest nonprofit fitness certifying organization.  For more information on ACE and its programs, call (800) 825-3636 or visit the ACE website at  AMERICAN COUNCIL ON EXERCISE, ACE and ACE logos are Registered Trademarks of the American Council on Exercise.



More ACE Press Releases