Thursday, March 28, 2013

Zumba: Benefits and Risks

Zumba is an extremely popular dance fitness class that burns over 800 calories per hour on average.
Zumba is an extremely popular dance fitness class.
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These days, Zumba is one of the most popular ways to get back in shape. Lots of women and men are finding that dancing to fast-paced music in a large group is a great way to have fun while burning calories at the same time. But Zumba may not be for everyone; like any type of exercise, it has a unique set of benefits and risks that you should be aware of before embarking on a booty-shaking journey to weight loss.

What is Zumba?
Zumba is a dance fitness program that was created by Alberto “Beto” Perez in the 1990s. It combines elements of aerobics and various dance styles, including hip-hop, samba, salsa, merengue, mambo, and more. According to the official Zumba Fitness website, there are over 14 million people taking weekly Zumba classes in more than 140,000 locations worldwide.

Like aerobics, Zumba is a great way to burn off excess calories. Kass Martin, a Zumba instructor and education specialist, claims that the averagenumber of calories burned in an hour was 817. This is due in part to the large number of muscles engaged, as opposed to some other exercises that only use certain muscle groups. It’s that “total body fitness” thing at work.

There is also a variety of age- and fitness level-appropriate class types available for kids ages four all the way up through seniors. Because it’s exercise and it’s fun, Zumba can also be a great way to handle the stresses of everyday life—plus, being more physically active often helps you feel better both emotionally and physically. Most Zumba-goers also say the time goes by quickly, and that it’s a great way to socialize and meet new friends.

Despite the amazing array of benefits, Zumba also comes with some risks that class goers should be aware of. The most prominent issues is that some people end up overly excited and strain their bodies too much—and that can cause some bad things to happen.

Zumba can result in injury if participants push themselves too hard or movements are done improperly.
To avoid injury, be sure you're in control of your movements!
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“A lot of people get caught up with the music and excitement of it, and they lose track of what they’re doing and they don’t realize they overdid it until long afterwards,” said orthopedic surgeon Dr. Joel Buchalter. He’s had many patients come in with injuries to their backs, knees and hips.

To avoid injury, you must be aware of your body’s limits, as well as how to do the movements appropriately. If you just throw your body around, you’re setting yourself up for an injury. There are also other factors to take into account, such as where the class is taking place and what type of shoes you’re wearing. Avoid hard surfaces with no give—such as cement—as well as surfaces that will cause your foot to stick, like carpet. Shoes should also be chosen wisely. Running shoes are not ideal because they grip the floor and are designed more for forward motion. Get shoes that will allow you to pivot and turn. This will help you avoid ankle and knee injuries from twisting awkwardly.

JLo suggests Zumba for fun and fitness.
That being said, Zumba can be a fun and efficient way to get in shape. Even some celebrities have joined in on the fun, like Jennifer Lopez, Kirstie Alley, Jordin Sparks, Madonna, and Vivica A. Fox. Have you ever tried Zumba before? Let me know your experiences and thoughts in the comments below!