Zumba: Sport or Dance
Zumba originated in Colombia in the 1990s. The fitness instructor forgot to bring his usual workout music to the lesson, so after taking several Latin American music albums out of his car and despite the limitations of traditional exercise, he started dancing like he did in a dance club.
His students danced together according to salsa and rumba rhythms with certain repetitions of movements that so usual in fitness. In the end, people really enjoyed the session, and the coach was asked to do the same training again. Since then, Zumba has been considered more of a means of entertainment than a workout. In fact, some research suggests that this may be the best way to train for people who hate exercising.
The lessons of Zumba are just like any other instructor-led workout, but with simple dance moves focused on the hips and step counting. Those movements make you sweat well. A study was done with a group of women who regularly danced Zumba and it was found that a 40-minute workout burns about 370 calories. A little more than nine calories per minute. You would achieve the same effectiveness about the same results, if you run at a low speed or ride a bike at a speed of 24 km per hour for the same amount of time. The study also found that dancing Zumba uses about 80% of maximum heart rate and 60% of V02max, which is the maximum oxygen consumption (MDS) during exercise.
But the most impressive feature of Zumba is how much people who do not like to exercise felt involved in this kind of workout. A study published in the American Journal of Health Behavior found out that when women with diabetes type 2 and obesity attended Zumba classes three times a week, they lost an average of 1.13kg per week and reduced their body fat by 1%. More importantly, the women enjoyed the workouts so much that it became a habit for them, which is very unusual for an aerobic workout program.
Hidden workouts that seem just like having fun bring unique benefits to physical and mental health. Another study linked Zumba’s movements to increased abdominal muscle strength and better balance in overweight women. After just 8 weeks all the women of this research claimed that the scores of life quality jumped 9% and their self-esteem rose 16%. A study that is focusing on the psychological benefits of Zumba found that people who practice it feel more independent and say their lives seem more purposeful.
It is not difficult to understand why this activity provides strength and liberation. During Zumba class you have to relax and have fun. As some anxious people learn improvisation to reduce their social fear, dancing in a group of people can help people attending Zumba’s workouts feel less shy about their bodies. Of course, Zumba cannot compete with workouts such as CrossFit or high-intensity interval workouts when it comes to the benefits of fitness. But for beginners or the elderly, Zumba is a great way to be more physically active.