Zumba 'Burns More Calories And Makes You Fitter Than Salsa' (But Both Will Make You Happy)

With Zumba classes now available in gyms and town halls across 180 countries, there's no denying the workout has become something of a worldwide phenomenon.

And its reign as the go-to dance-fitness class doesn't look set to end any time soon.

New research suggests Zumba may be even better for our health than the traditional Latin American dance styles it takes its inspiration from.

The study, conducted by Kingston University and the University of the West of Scotland, suggests Zumba is more effective than salsa in helping inactive women up their fitness.

For the study, 24 healthy women between the ages of 22 and 56, who usually exercised one per week, did two salsa classes and two Zumba classes over a two-week period.

In a typical salsa dance class, development of dance technique is the primary emphasis.

The study explains: "About half of each salsa class is spent in partner work, with men being taught how to lead the figures and women being instructed on appropriate following and styling skills.

"A warm-up song and three to four practice songs are typically played during a one hour session. Class structure and selection of music, including song tempo, which affects dance intensity, are determined by the instructor."

In contrast, the primary purpose of Zumba is aerobic exercise. Less attention is placed on correct execution of the formal dance steps.

"A typical one hour Zumba fitness class consists of one to two warm-up songs, followed by eight to 10 main songs choreographed to elicit both low and high intensities of dance," the study states.

"Sessions conclude with one to two songs used for cool-down and stretching."

For the study, the women wore chest monitors and fitness wristbands throughout both classes.

Upon analysis, these revealed that women burned more calories during Zumba sessions than they did during salsa sessions.

Their heart rate also increased more with Zumba than it did with salsa.

Particpants were also asked to answer a questionnaire after each class. The results showed that both styles of dance fitness class were associated with improvements in psychological wellbeing.

The research is published in the Journal of Sport and Health Science.

Previously speaking to HuffPost Healthy Living, Zumba instructor and education specialist Kass Martin said the feel-good factor of Zumba can help women maintain motivation to exercise.

"It completely changes the idea of exercise because it's something you really look forward to," she said.

"I had a student who lost 75 pounds - and she was having fun. A lot of these people wouldn't be going to the gym at all if it weren't for Zumba."


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