April 29, 2019 | Abby Caviness
In 1982, the Dance Committee of the International Theatre Institute founded International Dance Day. Occurring every year on April 29th, this holiday was founded to celebrate dance as an art form. However, USHEALTH Group® wants you to know there are other forms of dance worth recognizing, such as Zumba.
What is Zumba?
Zumba is a workout class designed more like a dance party.2 Though the exercise is based around dancing, you do not have to be a good dancer to participate. In fact, just by getting up and moving, your body will thank you for the attention.*
Zumba originated in Colombia in the late 1980s. In fact, it has Latin roots in dances such as the merengue, salsa, cumbia, and samba.3 By pairing Latin-inspired music with energetic dance moves, it gives you a full-body workout all while having fun.
Zumba also offers a few different varieties, which target different needs. For example, Aqua Zumba involves getting in the water and dancing, and Zumba Toning incorporates weights for additional strength training.3 In addition, many people enjoy the added benefit of comradery as opposed to going to the gym by themselves. So, individuals who struggle to motivate themselves in a gym setting may benefit from the friendships these classes create.
The First Zumba Class
Once upon a time (1986) in Colombia, Alberto “Beto” Perez arrived to teach his aerobics class without his traditional music.4 As soon as he realized, he grabbed his Latin music tapes from his car. He used this music to improvise a workout all his students loved.
In 2001, Perez started teaching classes in Miami, Florida. Soon after, he partnered with Alberto Perlman and Alberto Aghion to trademark the name Zumba. From there, the exercise style began trending across the United States and then across the world.4
Health Benefits of Zumba
After learning more about Zumba, some may wonder if it poses enough benefits. Is it as good as running or plain aerobics? Luckily, we are here to set the record straight.
The health benefits are many. The dances take you through a full-body workout and, if you are doing it right, improve your overall mood.5 In fact, studies show dancing can improve the mood of participants and lessen symptoms of depression.6 If you are still not convinced, here are some additional health benefits of Zumba in particular:5
Burns calories and fat
Studies show a 39-minute class burns up to 369 calories. In fact, this amount is above the American Council on Exercise’s recommended minimum of 300 calories for an effective workout. Meanwhile, running at 5 mph for 40 minutes burns 345 calories. So, would you rather run or dance?
At first, your heart rate may go off the charts during your starter class. However, one study revealed participants improved heart rate and systolic blood pressure even as the work increased over 12 weeks.
Improves blood pressure
In fact, a 2016 study found overweight women participating in a 12-week Zumba program experienced a decrease in blood pressure and improvements in bodyweight.
Adaptable for any fitness level
Like many other fitness classes, the movements and intensity of the workout are adaptable to suit your ability. Though, any effort you put forth will be worth it!
Increases pain threshold
A 2016 study showed individuals experienced a decrease in pain severity and pain interference after participating in a 12-week Zumba program.
With any intense workout comes a few potential risks if you are not being careful.7 For example, inadequate stretching can result in an injury and pushing yourself too far can have adverse effects. Thankfully, there are several ways to protect yourself from these potential incidents:7
- Consult your doctor to ensure Zumba is safe for you
- Wear shoes with thin soles, not running shoes with thick treads
- Make sure the instructor is licensed to teach Zumba classes
- Ensure you have enough room to move
- Incorporate a warm-up and go at your own pace
However, Zumba could be a great way to get started exercising without being intimidated by going to the gym. Besides, all you need to remember is to listen to your body and what it is telling you.
While Zumba is not for everyone, it does pose some serious health benefits worth checking out. Additionally, it is great for people who have a hard time staying motivated in the gym. In fact, perhaps the “fun” aspect of the classes will give you the inspiration to stick with it. And you may just make some friends along the way!
*This material is provided by USHEALTH Group for informational/educational purposes only and should not replace medical/clinical advice or direction from your health care provider.
- International Dance Day, “About International Dance Day,” Internation-Dance-Day.org, accessed April 23, 2019, https://www.international-dance-day.org/internationaldanceday.html
- Iliades, Chris, “Getting Fit With Zumba,” EverydayHealth.com, last modified March 25, 2011, https://www.everydayhealth.com/fitness/getting-fit-with-zumba.aspx
- Helmer, Jodi, “Zumba,” WebMD.com, accessed April 23, 2019, https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/a-z/zumba-workouts
- Murphy, Pam, “Origins of Zumba,” Livestrong.com, last modified January 5, 2018, https://www.livestrong.com/article/339452-origins-of-zumba/
- Kelly, Erin, “The Surprising Health Benefits of Zumba,” Healthline.com, last modified January 10, 2018, https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/benefits-of-zumba#5
- Birks, Matt, “Benefits of Salsa Classes in Treatment of Depression,” NursingTimes.net, accessed April 23, 2019, https://www.nursingtimes.net/Journals/2013/02/08/t/x/u/070306benefits-of-salsa-classes-in-treatment-of-depression.pdf
- Konrad, Walecia, “Zumba Away, but Avoid Injury,” NYTimes.com, last modified July 8, 2011, https://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/09/health/09consumer.html