The Latin and international rhythms and dance moves of Zumba Fitness may hold an irresistible attraction for you, especially if you’ve always loved dancing to salsa, R&B or oldies. So you may well find yourself spending as many days as you can each week doing Zumba, with an eye to losing weight as well. How often you should do Zumba to lose weight may be more of a question of not doing too much rather than worrying about doing too little.
The three pillars of weight loss are cardiovascular exercise, strength training and a sound diet. Zumba Fitness can provide you with the cardio component needed for weight loss -- and add a bit of strength training as well, if you use Zumba Fitness toning sticks to work on your arm strength. Zumba Fitness founder Beto Perez recommends starting with 20 minutes of Zumba dancing three times a week if you have no fitness background. Over the next few weeks, try to build up to 45 to 60 minutes a session at least three times a week. Listen to your body on whether you can do even more, he suggests. To dance for 20 minutes, you can select the “Rush” 20-minute workout on the Zumba Fitness “Exhilarate” DVD set. To dance for 45 minutes, you can follow the “Activate” DVD with its 45-minute workout. An in-person class or the “Exhilarate” dance-party DVD lasts an hour.
If you are more physically fit, you can do more, Perez writes in “Zumba: Ditch the Workout Join the Party! The Zumba Weight Loss Program.” Zumba Fitness fans may choose to go to classes or work out at home to the Florida-based company’s dance DVDs five or six times a week for an hour at a time, he writes. Perez recommends building in some time to recover, especially if you experience any muscle soreness. This can mean working out every other day or working several days in succession, followed by a day or two off.
In addition to dancing three to six days a week to lose weight, you need to go at your own pace in the class, dancing neither too lightly nor too intensely. If you perceive your exertion as between 4 and 6 on a scale of 10, in other words, moderately hard and not very easy or maximum difficulty, you are taking full advantage of the cardio benefits, Perez indicates. His recommendations in terms of time and intensity fall in line with Department of Health and Human Services recommendations for at least 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week or 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity for a healthy adult to achieve fitness. Losing weight requires increased activity, and 180 minutes of vigorous activity -- representing enthusiastic participation in three hour-long Zumba Fitness classes -- can place you on the road to weight loss.
Zumba Fitness can be combined with a nutritious diet to encourage weight loss. The dances themselves may encourage you to spend less time snacking to look trimmer in the studio’s mirrors, to lessen the weight supported by your joints and to bring more pop to your moves, especially on songs that involve jumping. In his weight-loss book, Perez recommends combining Zumba Fitness with a diet focused on lean meats, whole grains, vegetables and fruits, and adding varied cardio activities such as yoga, bike riding and running as well as weight training to your fitness program.