There are so many variables when determining calorie burn. Your weight, fitness level and genetics play roles, as do the length and intensity of the class. However given that Zumba is a high-energy, fast-paced dance aerobics class, you can expect the calorie burn to be upwards of 300 calories per hour.
Calorie Burn Estimates
Zumba is a Latin dance-inspired, fast-paced aerobic dance class. It involves your entire body, which means all your major muscle groups are working. The more muscles you get working at once, the more calories you'll burn.
In these types of fast-paced dance fitness classes, you can burn between 360 to 532 calories, according to estimates on the Harvard Health Publications website. This takes into consideration body weight -- the more you weigh, the more calories you'll burn.
A Scientific Approach
To more accurately assess the calorie-burning potential of Zumba, the American Council on Exercise commissioned a study conducted by researchers at the Department of Exercise and Sport Science at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
In the study, 19 healthy females ages 18 to 22 participated in a single Zumba class while wearing a heart rate monitor. All the women had previous Zumba experience. Prior to the class, all subjects underwent a maximal treadmill test to assess their heart rate and oxygen consumption. The average calorie burn was 9.5 per minute.
Factors that Affect Calorie Burn
The women in the study were all young and healthy. They had normal body weights and an average level of physical fitness.
If you are carrying around extra body weight, you will likely burn more calories simply because your body has to move around more weight. If you haven't been exercising regularly, you will also burn more calories. Once you lose weight and become more conditioned, you will burn fewer calories doing the same workout.
Intensity makes a big difference in calorie burning, and it can vary significantly. You'll burn fewer calories in a slower-paced beginner class than you will in a more advanced class. Classes that involve a lot of jumping will burn more than classes that are lower impact. The more you get your heart rate up, the harder it is to breathe and the more you sweat, the more calories you will be burning.
The Fun Factor
Zumba claims to take to take the work out of working out. In fact, it can be so fun you might not realize you're exercising. The participants in the ACE study perceived the workout to be easier than it actually was. This can make it much easier to exercise for longer and burn more calories than you would doing another activity you don't enjoy as much.