How Many Calories Do You Burn Doing Zumba?

While the buzz about Zumba being the hippest, hottest trend in group exercise may have receded some in recent years, the truth is that Zumba is still wildly popular as a fun way to get in a workout. One of the biggest draws to Zumba is its music-based roots in various forms of cultural dance, including hip hop, belly dancing, and a few different forms of Latin American dancing (like salsa and meringue).

Generally speaking, Zumba classes last about an hour and are full of full-bodied, rapid dance moves choreographed specifically to get the body moving and the heart rate up. The amount of energy required to pull off an hour-long Zumba class makes it a great way to burn loads of calories and build lean muscle all over the body.

The official Zumba website says that people burn “hundreds” of calories during an hour-long Zumba workout, but that number leaves a huge range of calories and, while inspiring, might not be particularly helpful. Specifically how many calories you burn doing Zumba can only be determined by an individual’s specific weight and muscle mass as well as the difficulty level of the workout itself, but there are some general guidelines you can follow to estimate how many calories you’re burning at your weeknight Zumba class.

Harvard Medical School’s Health Publications website offers a chart estimating calorie burn in 30-minute increments of common exercises, based on weight. For example, a person weighing 155 pounds doing water aerobics will burn 149 calories in 30 minutes of exercise, while that same person will burn 316 calories doing vigorous stationery rowing in the same time span. The chart lists “fast dancing” at 223 calories per 30 minutes, so it may be safe to extrapolate this and come up with an estimated 450 calories for the 155-pound person during an hour of Zumba. Half an hour of fast dancing for a person weighing 125 pounds burns an estimated 180 calories, and someone weighing 185 pounds can expect to burn about 266 calories in that same half an hour.

While burning calories is an important part of keeping (or getting!) fit and maintaining your health, the thing to remember when exercising a la Zumba or any other fast-paced cardio workout is that you are taking care of your heart. Moderate cardio exercise – that elevates your heart rate and keeps it there – is critical for your long-term health. Zumba might be a great way to burn calories, sure, but you may also want to take into account whether or not Zumba provides you enough fun and energy to keep you motivated, to keep going to the gym and getting that heart pumping. Calories are an important part of your overall health picture, but they are not the be-all, end-all in fitness.

So tell us! Have you taken a Zumba class? What did you like about it? Are there other forms of exercise you prefer?


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