Zumba gives you a calorie-burning cardiovascular workout in the atmosphere of a dance party. Latin moves are the basis for this aerobic dance class, but movements from belly dance, hip-hop and reggaeton also feature in Zumba. The emphasis on having fun can help you stick with this workout even if you usually dislike exercise. Commit to a regular schedule of Zumba classes and a healthy diet and you could lose several pounds your first month.
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Weight Loss 101
When people talk about weight loss, they actually mean fat loss. Your goal in Zumba should be to lose excess body fat, but maintain -- or even build -- lean muscle mass. When you start working out, you might gain muscle mass, which means you could see the number on the scale stay put or even go up a little. Judge fat loss by how you look and feel and how your clothes fit, not by a number on the scale.
Burn Calories Fast
Zumba has the potential to burn a lot of calories compared to other aerobics classes. In a study by the American Council on Exercise, researchers found that the 19 healthy female participants burned an average of 9.5 calories per minute of Zumba. Compared to kickboxing, step aerobics and power yoga, Zumba burned the most calories per minute.
How many calories you burn per minute depends on how hard you're working. In a really tough Zumba class, you'll burn more calories than in a slower-paced class. Zumba classes that incorporate interval training -- alternated periods of intense effort followed by periods of slower paced recovery -- will burn the most calories and are the best for fat loss, according to a study published in Journal of Obesity in 2011.
Zumba works your whole body, helping tone every muscle group, particularly your back and abdominals. Building lean muscle mass helps rev your metabolism for more efficient calorie burning.
Read more: Zumba Workout Benefits
Losing Fat With Zumba
To lose fat with Zumba, you need to create a calorie deficit by regularly burning more calories than you take in through your diet. This is done by reducing the calories you eat and increasing your physical activity. While doing a lot of Zumba is good for you, it won't help you lose fat if your diet is out of control.
Your doctor or a nutritionist can help you figure out how many calories you need to eat and how many you need to burn to stay in the fat loss sweet spot. Typically about 1 to 2 pounds per week is considered a safe rate of fat loss, although it may be slightly more in the beginning. Losing fat slowly helps prevent nutritional deficiencies and other health problems. People who lose weight slowly also tend to keep it off longer than those who lose a lot of weight quickly.
The more Zumba you do, the faster you'll lose weight -- assuming your diet is on track. Getting 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity daily is good for your health and your weight. If you only want to do a few Zumba classes each week, do another activity on the other days of the week to stay active such as jogging, cycling or lifting weights.