What a Zumba Workout Really Does for Your Body

What a Zumba Workout Really Does for Your Body

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Can a workout this fun be effective too?

Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

The Zumba craze has swept the planet, with over 112 million devotees, but fans may not be aware of what Zumba routines are doing to their bodies. Scientific studies have been performed to uncover the truth behind one of the fastest-growing workout regimens in 125 countries. Zumba isn't simply a fun excuse to dance the pounds away, it has an effect on the entire body.

Burn Calories

In a study conducted by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), it was determined that a single Zumba workout -- ranging from 32 to 52 minutes -- burned an average of 369 calories. According to lead researcher Mary Luettgen, M.S., the key to this highly effective exercise is that the ebb and flow of the dance spurts mimics interval training. Interval training is more effective for calorie burning than consistent moderate exercise, such as jogging. Best of all, these results were comparable for Zumba enthusiasts of varying fitness levels. Exercisers of practically any level can enjoy the calorie burn.

Increase VO2 Max

Edward R. Laskowski, M.D., a physical medicine specialist for the Mayo Clinic, agrees with the ACE findings, and adds that Zumba helps improve cardiopulmonary endurance. Subjects in the ACE Zumba study averaged an estimated 64 percent of their VO2 max during the workout. VO2 refers to the volume of oxygen your body uses during physical activity. The more oxygen your body is able to process, the more fit your heart is. As you improve your cardiovascular fitness, your VO2 max increases. It is recommended to exercise within 40 to 80 percent of your VO2 max to improve your endurance, which a Zumba workout easily provides.

Lower Blood Pressure

As your heart becomes stronger, benefits are seen throughout your body. A study published in Physical Education and Sport in 2005 discovered that subjects who participated in an aerobic dance regimen had an improved heart rate of about 6 percent and a decrease in both systolic and diastolic arterial blood pressure. The women in the study reached those results after three dance classes a week for three months. Staying loyal to an exercise regimen is integral to physical improvement, and since Zumba is a fun workout, it is more likely that participants will stick with it and reap all the rewards.

Strengthen Your Core

The dance moves in the Zumba workout often target the midsection, which strengthens your core and improves your flexibility. Doctor John P. Pocari of the American Council on Exercise found that all the hip swaying in a Zumba workout results in a highly effective core workout. Some benefits of a stronger core include improved balance, better posture and an increased ability to perform physical tasks. Another benefit is that you may end up looking better in a bikini. No matter what level you start at, a Zumba workout can improve many aspects of your entire body.

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