When it comes to getting a good workout, people look for two things: the most bang for their buck and the most entertainment. While the former can be estimated by calorie burn and intensity, the latter is highly subjective. Some people enjoy putting on their headphones and getting into their own groove on the treadmill, while others want to be in a group and groove to the pumping Latin beats of a Zumba class. Both are viable ways to get a good cardiovascular workout, but beyond that they are about as similar as apples and oranges.
People of most fitness levels can use a treadmill. You can walk, jog, run and sprint on a treadmill, you can adjust the incline and you can work out for a short or long period of time depending on your goal. Wherever you are fitness-wise, a treadmill has something to offer you.
Zumba classes may or may not be suitable for people of all fitness levels. Anyone can keep up with an entry level class with a slower pace and limited footwork, but more advanced classes can be too much for beginners. Classes are typically an hour in length, which can be a lot for someone just starting out.
Both treadmill workouts and most Zumba classes involve impact. Running and sprinting on a treadmill will put more stress on your joints, and some of the moves in Zumba involve jumping or stomping, which can be equally high impact. Walking on a treadmill is pretty low impact, so if you have joint problems it may be more suitable for you. Zumba moves can sometimes be modified to be lower impact.
Variety in your workout routine keeps things interesting. For many people, doing the same thing day in and day out is a recipe for burnout. There's not a lot of variety to be had on a treadmill. Sure, you can adjust your pace and incline, you can do intervals or hill repeats, but you're still on the treadmill inside the four walls of your gym.
Still, some people enjoy that. They just want to put on their music or watch their shows while they burn off some calories and stress. It's purely subjective.
But for variety, Zumba really can't be beat. If you live in a major city, you can find all kinds of Zumba classes, from the original Zumba to Aqua Zumba, Zumba Toning, Zumba Step and more. Each of these varieties offers different benefits, and all burn different amounts of calories per session.
Most gyms have at least one treadmill for members' use. During your gym's busy hours in the mornings and evenings, you may have to wait to get on a treadmill, which can be a hassle. Treadmills are also available for purchase for home gyms. Some models are affordable, while others are extravagant, depending on the brand and features of the machine.
Zumba classes are usually done in a gym or studio setting. Depending on where you live, you may or may not have access to Zumba classes, or at least not very many. In major cities, the offerings are more numerous, but you still have to find a class that fits your schedule, sign up for the class and get to the class on time. You can also do Zumba at home using a DVD or video game system, which can make it more convenient.
Calorie burn is highly variable and depends on many factors, including your fitness level, weight and even genetics. Estimates for calories burned walking range from 240 to 444 per hour, depending on your weight, according to Harvard Health Publications. Running burns more calories, from 480 at a slower pace to over 800 at a quick clip. Doing sprint intervals can burn even more.
Zumba is also a good calorie-burner as far as aerobics classes go. In a study by the American Council on Exercise, healthy females between the ages of 18 and 22 burned an average of 9.5 calories per minute doing Zumba. According to researchers, Zumba is a better calorie burner than other aerobics classes including step aerobics and cardio kickboxing.
Ultimately, how many calories you burn on a treadmill or in a Zumba class depends on how hard you work. The more effort you put in, the more calories you'll kiss goodbye.