A Zumba Class a Day, Keeps the Doctor Away

I never thought that doing the cha-cha and swinging my hips around in circles could be a form of good exercise AND make my muscles and joints feel better.
While I don’t have arthritis, working the 9-5 with a sedentary office job and sitting in MBA classes a few nights a week certainly does a number on my joints and back, and needless to say, I don’t have much room in my schedule for a good workout.
I have many friends who love jogging daily for exercise. That’s great for them, but if you have any joint pain or suffer from a type of arthritis, you are probably not going to enjoy the searing pain from repeatedly slamming your lower limbs into the concrete sidewalk as a method to burn some calories. If that was my only option for exercise, I’d be forced to only eat tree nuts and salad for the rest of my life to stay thin.
Yoga is fantastic for the joints and muscles, and I’m a huge fan, but what if you really need something aerobic to get your heart rate up?
Well, that’s why zumba is so fabulous!
Zumba is a combination of various multi-cultural dance moves and routines with fast-paced, easy to learn steps. And yes, I mean EASY to learn. There are some studios that may have more advanced dancers with more complicated moves, but for the most part, if you join a regular beginner zumba class you are not going to have a problem picking up the steps.
While I’ve mentioned “steps” a couple of times already, this is not a steps-oriented dance class where it’s embarrassing if you mess up or where the teacher has to correct everything you do wrong and nit-pick (I’ve been there and done that before with ballet). Even if you don’t get the steps totally right, that’s not the point of zumba. It’s all about moving your body in different low-impact and non-strenuous motions, getting your heart pumping, and having fun.
I’m the type of person who doesn’t find much exercise “fun” and I tend to roll my eyes when I watch those infomercials with happy, smiling, model-perfect women telling me how fun their excerise video routines are. I’m often skeptical about whether or not buying one of those workout DVDs would actually yield any results. I’m sure there are some that are fantastic, but zumba for only an hour a few times a week keeps me feeling less stiff and alleviates a lot of joint and muscle pain that I tend to get from sitting all day.
If you have arthritis though and want to check out just how great zumba has proven to be for arthritis sufferers, take a look at the article I’ve posted below. Even university researchers are finding from their studies that zumba is great for your body! Start googling your nearest zumba dance studio, stay healthy, and have fun moving to the beat!
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Zumba & Arthritis
With over 100 types of arthritis, one out of every seven Americans suffers from the disease, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Arthritis, characterized by inflammation of a joint or joints in your body, produces pain, stiffness and swelling. During the disease, your cartilage breaks down; leaving you with bone rubbing against bone. Participating in simple activities such as walking can cause discomfort. Zumba, pronounced zoo-bah is a dance fitness program developed by Beto Perez. International music combined with multi-cultural dance moves are blended together to create a 40 to 60 minute cardio workout. Worldwide, 20,000 instructors in 75 different countries teach Zumba as of 2010.

Risk Factors and Causes of Arthritis

Risk factors for arthritis include being overweight, joint or bone injury, bacterial, viral or fungal infection of the joint, and repeated or overuse of your joints. A 2005 British study found walking and muscle-strengthening exercises provided a safe way to reduce pain and disability for arthritis sufferers.
Zumba and Arthritis
Because Zumba is primarily dance, the exercise is considered a mind/body activity. You concentrate on your movements instead of your arthritis pain. Steffany Haaz, a public health scientist with John Hopkins Arthritis Center, says dancing helps keep people interested in exercise. Zumba, and other dance-related workouts promote mobility and improvements in pain. Furthermore, according to a Laval University study on rheumatoid arthritis, sufferers who engaged in dance experienced decreases in depression, anxiety, fatigue and tension.

Benefits of Zumba

Zumba is a total-body workout that incorporates interval training into its dance routines. Therefore, you tone muscles, sculpt your body, lose weight and relieve stress while burning 400 to 500 calories per 45-minute session. Because Zumba is weight-bearing, you strengthen your bones and increase your balance and agility. Participants report that Zumba class is fun, which underscores the “stick with it” factor for those who become bored with other exercise routines and quit going to the gym.

Tips For Beginners

Consider executing the dance moves at a much slower pace. Let your instructor know you have an arthritic condition so she will be able to provide you with alternative movements. Modify your movements when the instruction calls for repetitive motions and always consult your physician or health care provide when attempting new activities. Wear a court shoe, aerobic or dance fitness sneaker to ensure safety and more fluidity in your movements.

Photo Credit

Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

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