Zumba® bills itself as your source for “dance fitness classes that are fun, energetic, and make you feel amazing.” That, in a nutshell, describes virtually any aerobic activity you truly enjoy. If it gets your heart rate pumping, puts a little sweat on your brow, burns calories (while paradoxically making you feel more energized), and it’s fun, it’s bound to be good for you. Research confirms that vigorous aerobic exercise is beneficial to overall health. The benefits are diverse, ranging from better sleep, to better fitness. But chief among them is better heart health.
The Benefits of Group Exercise
While just about any form of vigorously performed aerobic exercise can yield significant cardiovascular health benefits, in terms of reduced cardiovascular disease risk, variations like Zumba® dance classes offer specific advantages that may appeal to certain types of people. If you thrive in a group setting, for instance, where a certain amount of group support—and peer pressure—operates, then class-type exercise sessions may be best for you.
Zumba® dance classes feature enthusiastic instructors, leading a wide range of simple dance moves choreographed to rapid-beat, world and latin-inspired dance music. It’s done in a non-judgmental, party-like atmosphere that designed to inspire you to reach for new heights of aerobic exertion, for longer than you might manage on your own.
Of course, part of the success of the Zumba® approach involves taking the drudgery out of exercise by making it seem more like a party, and less like high school gym class. Instructors mix it up, by switching between low-intensity and high-intensity movements, interval style.
A Variety of Styles for Different Tastes
In addition to significant cardiovascular health benefits, faithfully performed Zumba® can be expected to improve other elements of fitness success. Zumba® has branched out, offering variations that include Zumba® Step (step aerobics combined with original-style Zumba® dance), Zumba® Toning (adds maraca-like “toning sticks”, or hand weights, for additional upper body toning), and Aqua Zumba®, which takes the party into the pool for low-impact aerobic exercise that harnesses the power of water resistance.
There’s even Zumba® Gold (think Golden Girls, not Olympic gold). This modified class for active older adults features easy-to-follow movements performed at lower intensity than classic Zumba. Published research indicates that Zumba® can be an effective tool for weight loss, while also yielding improvements in markers of cardiovascular health, such as blood pressure, among overweight middle aged women.
In an Italian study, women experienced significant improvements after 12 weeks of Zumba fitness classes. Another recent study concluded that eight weeks of Zumba® fitness yielded, “Large magnitude enhancements…in the [health-related quality of life] factors of physical functioning, general health, energy/fatigue and emotional well-being.” Participants were otherwise inactive older women who experienced decreases in inflammation and body weight, too.
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