Updated: Jun 2, 2020
If you’ve ever watched a Zumba class, you’ve probably noticed its uncanny resemblance to the dance floor of a popular club on a Saturday night. Instead of the grunts you’d hear at your typical CrossFit or indoor cycling class, a Zumba class boasts catchy dance music, clapping hands, and even the occasional “Woo!” or gasp of excitement from an enthusiastic participant.
Zumba is a workout featuring movements inspired by various styles of Latin American dance, performed to music. It’s become a popular and trendy workout across the globe. But is it effective in burning calories, toning your arms, and sculpting muscles? Read on to discover the surprising benefits of Zumba.
It’s a full-body workout
Designed as a combination of salsa and aerobics, there’s no right or wrong way to do Zumba. As long as you move to the beat of the music, you’re participating in the exercise.
And since Zumba involves movement of the entire body — from your arms to your shoulders and to your feet — you’ll get a full-body workout that doesn’t feel like work.
You’ll burn calories (and fat!)
A small 2012 study found that a standard, 39-minute Zumba class burned an average of 9.5 calories per minute. This adds up to 369 calories in total throughout the class. The American Council on Exercise recommends that individuals burn 300 calories per workout in order to promote weight loss and maintain a healthy body weight. Zumba fits their criteria perfectly. Evidence also shows that a 12-week Zumba program can provide significant improvements in aerobic fitness.
You’ll build endurance
Since music played during a Zumba class is relatively fast-paced, moving to the beat can help build your endurance after just a few workouts. One study found that after 12 weeks of a Zumba program, participants showed a decreased heart rate and systolic blood pressure with an increase of work. These trends coincide with an increase in endurance.
You’ll improve cardiovascular fitness
According to the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, accepted fitness industry guidelines indicate that individuals who wish to improve their cardiovascular fitness should exercise between either:
64 and 94 percent of their HRmax, a measure of an athlete’s maximum heart rate
40 to 85 percent of VO2 max, a measure of the maximum volume of oxygen an athlete can use
According to the same study, all participants of a Zumba session fell within these HRmax and VO2 max guidelines. They were exercising at an average of 79 percent of HRmax and 66 percent of VO2 max. This makes Zumba an efficient workout in increasing aerobic capacity, a measure of cardiovascular fitness.
Improved blood pressure
A 2016 study involving a group of overweight women found that after a 12-week Zumba fitness program, participants experienced a decrease in blood pressure and significant improvements in body weight. Another 2015 study found a decrease in blood pressure in participants after a total of just 17 Zumba classes.
It’s adaptable for any fitness level
Since the intensity of Zumba is scalable — you’re moving on your own to the beat of the music — it’s a workout that everyone can do at their own intensity level!