The Benefits of Zumba (and other vigorous exercise)
Most of my readers, friends (and Facebook friends), family, Twitter followers – basically everyone within my inner and extended circle – are aware that I teach Zumba and love it. To be honest, I am sure most of my inner and extended circle are tired of hearing about it (if so, I’m sorry, but I won’t stop the raving :)).
I have been teaching since the beginning of December (practicing hard since November) and have noticed some fairly significant changes physically and psychologically. I know that any other type of vigorous physical activity would produce similar benefits; however, as Zumba is basically the only activity I have been doing over the past four months, I can attribute the majority of the changes to it.
I would assume a number of my participants have also experience similar benefits to those that I am about to list. If you have had a different experience, please share it with us via the comment board!
So what changes have I noticed?
1. Heart Rate. My resting HR has dropped from around 74 bpm (69 bpm on a good day) to approximately 54-56 bpm. That’s a massive drop, especially as I was in relatively good shape prior to starting Zumba.
2. Flexibility. I am able to touch my toes everyday. For some, this is no feat (Oh, the wittiness continues), but as a lanky, non-flexible individual, this is a big deal. After every dance session we stretch for about 5-10 minutes and I know this has led to the vast improvement I have noticed in my range of motion.
3. Sleep. My sleep has improved. On Zumba nights I wake up less, have a deeper sleep, and usually wake up before my alarm.
4. Energy. After class I feel energized. This feeling of increased energy can be attributed to a number of things: great music, vigorous physical activity, moving in a very empowering and sensual way, socializing with participants during and after class, and of course, the many giggles and smiles throughout.
5. Confidence. As previously mentioned, Zumba fitness requires participants to sometimes move in a very sensual way. At first, I found this off-putting (as do most of my participants, at least at the beginning). However, as I have continued to expand my dance repertoire and have become more comfortable with the moves, I find moving in this way to be empowering. Today, I feel considerably more confident on and off the Zumba floor.
6. Metabolism. With any increase in physical activity there is going to be a corresponding increase in one’s metabolism. The majority of you will have experienced this when starting a new exercise program and / or making any slight change to your physical activity regimen. Increased appetite is an indicator of a metabolic alteration. While supplementation is good, try to keep your snacking habits in check as we often tend to over-indulge following an exercise session. Trust me, the calories you consume as prize for your workout will easily surpass those burned during the session. Be mindful of this, but don’t be too restrictive. It’s all about balance.
7. Muscle Tone. My Zumba classes tend to be very fitness focused. Thus, my routines tend to incorporate a lot more squats, lunges, core-focused movements, than other classes you may attend. I, like most other Zumba instructors, also perform a song dedicated to arms at the end of each session. And since starting this arm-focused song way back in December I have noticed a considerable change in the muscle tone of my arms. I have also noticed muscle tone changes in a lot of my regular participants (I am so, so, so proud of you all).
8. Mood. I have noticed that my mood is more consistently happy / contented. I thoroughly enjoy this aspect.