I have to speak out! You cannot burn 1000 calories in an hour of Zumba Fitness class. Nor can you burn 850 as this photo circulating around Facebook claims. I love Zumba and like most have lost 10 or more pounds doing it regularly. But the journalist in me cringes every time someone makes the claim that you burn zillions of calories doing Zumba Fitness. It doesn’t matter how happy you are during that hour it’s false. But the news is still good.
So you know, a calorie is unit of heat energy and how we measure the energy we consume and burn. For example, fats have nine calories per gram. Proteins and carbohydrates have four calories per gram. Pure alcohol has seven calories. The rate we burn this energy changes to meet the needs of the body. That’s why to lose weight you must burn more calories than you take in. Hence, doing more Zumba classes and not increasing food in take has been the recipe of success for so many Zumba Lovers.
My own anecdotal evidence finds an hour of hard core Zumba Fitness… with lots of high impact merengue, fast salsa and butt kicking reaggeaton mixed in burns around 500 calories. I have measured with 24 Hour Fitness’ Bodybugg and Polar’s heart rate monitor. The heart rate monitor showed I burned less.
More scientifically, the American Council on Exercise’s (ACE) independent study of Zumba Fitness classes found a group of 18-22 year olds burned 9.5 calories per minute or 369 calories in an average class (consider warm-up and cool down). It says that’s more than cardio kickboxing or step aerobics.
Researchers also said because of the high and low intervals in the class more calories are burned compared to steady stage exercise like jogging. ACE also noted the importance of instructor expertise to insure a safe and effective workout.
But don’t get bogged down by the numbers. The point is Zumba is a party so people want to do it. If you can get your butt up and moving that’s more than half the battle. A fun fitness class putting a smile on your face and sweat on your forehead will put you on the path to good health. Then, hopefully you’ll get the bug to try other exercise activities with weights or in the water. Americans need to move more and lower the rate of obesity in this country. Let’s get everyone to join the Party MOVEment and get on the path to better health. You don’t have to burn 1000 calories in an hour to achieve this.