Friday, August 12, 2011

Can you Zumba your way to fitness? by Jerry Brainum

Alberto Perez was an aerobics instructor in Columbia. On one fateful day, he was late to teach his class, and forgot to bring along his exercise music tapes. He had to improvise fast, and that he did, scooping up a few Latin dance music tapes that he had in his car. The class he taught that day was more of a Latin dance class than an aerobic class, except for the fact that the dancers were a bit more frenetic in their movements. Perez's impromptu dance class proved so popular that it aquired a life of its own, and became known as "Zumba." Zumba is currently practiced by an estimated 7.5 million people each week in over 60,000 sites in 100 countries. If you watch late night TV, sooner or later you will no doubt be confronted with an advertisment for a Zumba DVD, which has thus far sold over 3 million copies.

     Zumba is considered a form of aerobic dance with a strong Latin influence. It includes eight basic rhythms: merengue, salsa, cumbia, reggaeton, belly dance, flamenco, tango, and samba. Ads for Zumba state that it's not only more enjoyable than standard exercise, but also burns 500-1,000 calories per exercise session. The question is: just how intense is Zumba, and will it actually contribute to fitness?

      This question was examined in a recent study presented at the 2011 meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine. The study featured 15 subjects, average age, 21, all of whom had either participated in, or taught Zumba classes.They used three of the Zumba rhythms, along with an "American mix," whatever that is. Researchers measured oxygen consumption, heart rate, and caloric usage in the exercisers, who engaged in 24 minutes of exercise.Caloric usage averaged 7 calories per minute, and the heart rate varied between 145 and 148 beats per minute, which would be considered moderate exercise intensity. As for the total caloric cost, that was 378-448 calories, not bad for just under a half hour of exercise. But the key to success with Zumba, as it is with any cardiovascular activity is to keep moving. You can figure out for yourself precisely how many calories you'll burn with Zumba by checking the online calculator located at

©,2013 Jerry Brainum. Any reprinting in any type of media, including electronic and foreign is expressly prohibited.

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