Can Zumba Help Me Lose Weight?

by Marixie Ann Obsioma
Published on September 4, 2019

Dancing to the tune of salsa, merengue, and flamenco feels more like a dance party than an exercise, which is exactly what makes Zumba enjoyable and fun. They are set to upbeat music and choreographed dance numbers that you see on TV and in clubs. This Latin-inspired dance exercise is well-liked all around the world. You don’t need to be a good dancer to be welcomed in this class. You just have to get your body moving to the music and have a great time! Read on to know how you can include Zumba into a healthy weight loss plan.

What is Zumba?

It all started in the 1990s. Zumba was developed by a Colombian dancer, who combined the elements of dance and aerobics, considering the many different styles in South America (1). This exercise program is fun and engaging. It is being regularly practiced now by more than 15 million people in over 175 countries. It’s a full-body workout that combines fast and slow dance moves with some resistance training. This will help strengthen your core, enhance flexibility, and shed off fat.

There are 9 different types of Zumba, which allows people of all ages, abilities, and goals to join and improve their overall health. From Aqua Zumba exercises to classes like Zumba toning that use weights to facilitate calorie burning and strength training, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from! Kids can enjoy Zumba too!

How Can Zumba Help You Lose Weight?

As mentioned earlier, Zumba is a high-energy form of aerobic exercise that can help increase your physical activity and calorie burn. To be able to lose weight, you have to create a calorie deficit by burning more calories than you eat. You can either limit your caloric intake, increase your exercise, or both.

Though the number of calories you’ll burn may depend on several factors like genetics, age, weight, level of physical fitness, and the intensity of working, the research found that a standard, 39-minute Zumba class can help your burn approximately 9.5 calories per minute. That’s a total of 369 calories per class (2)! This was more calories burned that spending the same amount of time doing power yoga, kickboxing, and step aerobics. According to experts, you must burn 300 calories per exercise to lose and maintain a healthy weight (3). Zumba certainly fits their criteria!

If you want to up the number of calories you burn per session, increase the intensity of your workout. Wear a heart rate monitor to help you keep working between 55 to 85% of your maximum heart rate. You can also burn more fat and calories by doing variations, Try High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Zumba or Zumba strength class with weights.

Doing Zumba 2-3 times weekly, combined with a balanced diet and weekly strength training sessions, there’ll be no reason not to meet your weight loss goals! Evidence also shows that a 12-week Zumba program can help improve aerobic fitness (4).

But remember, while a caloric deficit is needed to lose weight, it is equally important to take enough calories to keep you fueled and get sufficient amounts of vitamins and nutrients. Losing weight too fast can be dangerous. Keep your energy up, take it slow, and eat a healthy diet.

How Often Should You Do Zumba To Get A Healthy Weight?

How often you’ll need to do Zumba to lose weight will depend on your health and fitness goals. As mentioned above, experts recommend people to burn 300-400 calories per session to lose weight. Also, your body may quickly adapt to the exercise, so it is best to alternate it with other cardiovascular exercises like walking, jogging, and swimming.

On days when you can’t do Zumba, try strength training. It can help tone up your body and lose body faster. Keeping your body regularly challenged is important for continued weight loss. Diet is also very important. To lose one pound weekly, you have to expend 500 more calories per day than you eat. A single pound of fat is equal to 3500 calories (5). Consult a nutritionist to get a better daily diet plan.

Why Choose Zumba for Weight Loss?

With more than 200,000 class locations across countries, it is very easy to find a nearby location offering Zumba classes. Furthermore, since most sessions are only done within an hour or shorter, it does not require too much for you to consider starting a low-intensity exercise routine. In fact, if you cannot make it to a class, you can simply search for videos online and do it at home. You won’t need a lot of equipment. You just have to wear lightweight and comfortable clothes and invest in a good mat and a set of 1 or 3-pound dumbbells. You can also customize your Zumba strategy to perfectly suit your abilities and goals.

Aside from weight loss, Zumba has several other health benefits:

Other Health Benefits of Zumba

1. Controlled Blood Pressure

A 12-week Zumba fitness program was found to be helpful in decreasing blood pressure and improving the bodyweight of overweight women (4). Others noted a decrease in BP after 17 Zumba classes (6).

2. Improved Cardiovascular Health

The Journal of Sports Science and Medicine says that people who wish to improve their cardiovascular health must exercise between either 64 to 94% of an athlete’s maximum heart rate (HRmax) or 40 to 85% of the maximum volume of oxygen an athlete can use (VO2 max). People who do Zumba fell within these guidelines. Most are exercising approximately 79% of HRmax and 66% of VO2 max (7). This just proves that Zumba makes a perfect workout to help increase aerobic capacity, which is a good measure of cardiovascular fitness.

3. Reduced Anxiety

Going to the gym can be a little intimidating and most of the time, you will feel like you are in constant competition. However, Zumba is a social and communal-based activity, which releases endorphins and neurotransmitters that can help boost your mood and decrease stress hormones in the body.

4. Increased Pain Threshold

Aside from losing weight, do you want to get tough? Go start attending Zumba! The research found that after a 12-week Zumba program, participants had better pain tolerance and less pain interference (4).

5. Good Posture

The movements done in Zumba aren’t common in other types of exercise, and by mixing the movements of mambo, merengue, samba, and salsa, you will be using unique muscle groups and accustom your joints to more movements and stretches. With less tension and improved range of motion, you’ll surely get better posture and become more flexible (8).

6. More Endurance

The music used in Zumba classes is relatively fast. Moving to these beats can help build your endurance. The decreased heart rate and systolic BP on participants even after increased workload for 12 weeks of Zumba classes is a testament to increasing stamina and endurance (4).

7. Better Coordination

You probably might have not thought about coordination, especially if you are young and this ability seems to come naturally (9). However, as you age, you start to lose coordination. But worry no more, because Zumba, with its multi-tasking elements, can help keep you well balanced and in good physical shape!

8. High Self-Confidence

Zumba is more social than other exercise routines. Improving your dance moves and health in a fun, an informal setting can help you make new friends and be more comfortable about the way you look and feel. This improves self-esteem and confidence and encourages you to return for another session.

Tips for Weight Loss With Zumba

Doing Zumba workouts would mean getting a lot of cardiovascular exercises. To be able to meet your weight loss goals, you would surely need to eat healthy foods too.

  • Try to fill your plate with whole grains like oats, quinoa, and brown rice daily.
  • Limit your intake of empty carbohydrates like bread, cookies, and pasta.
  • Take a lot of lean protein like egg whites, tofu, fish, and chicken.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Eating every 3 hours or so will sustain your energy. Be sure you’ll take healthy snacks.
  • Aim to lose a pound or two weekly.

Precautions and Safety Measures

The benefits of Zumba are just too many so it is very important to take the necessary precautions to not miss them at all.

  • If any move or position hurts, modify the activity or stop to avoid further problems.
  • If you have any health conditions or are on any medications, consult a doctor first before trying Zumba.
  • If you are pregnant, consult your gynecologist. Zumba involves high-impact movements that can cause imbalance.
  • If you have arthritis, avoid too much turning, twisting, and bending.
  • Consult is required in cases of high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, osteoporosis, and disc herniation.
  • Try to avoid stress fractures in the knee, ankle, and foot, which may result from an incorrect dancing technique or by wearing improper shoes. Shoes with pivot points that allow you to move in all directions are highly recommended.
  • Watch out for any grips and make for big spaces so you can move freely and easily.
  • Dehydration is common in high-intensity workouts due to excessive sweating.
  • A sudden switch from a sedentary lifestyle to a more active one can cause sprains, strains, splints, tears, and spurs.

The Bottomline

Zumba is an enjoyable way to fit in aerobic exercise into your life and help you lose weight. Do Zumba with a healthy diet and strength training, you’ll surely reap off the best results! But again, always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.

References:

(1) https://www.jssm.org/vol11/n2/21/v11n2-21text.php
(2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3737860/
(3) https://acewebcontent.azureedge.net/continuingeducation/resources/4a5wy7yz/fss/Chapter3.pdf
(4) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25693596
(5) https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/calories/art-20048065
(6) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24921620
(7) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3737860/
(8) https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02640414.2016.1140906
(9) http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/98622899/zumba-dance-improves-health-overweight-obese-type-2-diabetic-women

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