The exercise phenomenon known as Zumba continues to spread. More than 14 million people in 151 different countries take Zumba classes, according to Zumba.com. Now, the older generation is getting into the groove.
Zumba combines Latin and international music with easy-to-follow dance moves. When done correctly, it can help burn calories and provide a good cardiovascular workout. Recently, a version of the workout surfaced that aims to help older adults. The National Institute on Aging says even moderate exercise and physical activity can improve the health of people who are frail or have a chronic illness. However, a typical gym exercise routine for many older people is out of the question because it can cause too much strain on their bodies.
To offer a solution, Zumba Gold® classes are popping up at local gyms, fitness clubs, community and rehabilitation centers, retirement communities, and YMCAs. These classes help seniors dance their way to better health through routine specifically designed for their needs. It offers more overall movement than step aerobics and the music encourages regular participation.
Supporters believe the exercise can help the elderly on multiple levels. The benefits can include:
- Better cardiovascular capacity
- More muscle strength and endurance
- Improved bone density and prevention of osteoporosis
- Better balance and improved overall weight-bearing
- Better range of motion and flexibility
- Improved posture
- More social interaction
- Weight loss
Additionally, Zumba is fun for many people and classes often have a party-like atmosphere. To limit risk for older participants, the Gold classes scale back on the high-impact and tricky moves present in many regular Zumba classes. The rhythms are also at a lower intensity so as not to tire out elderly exercisers too quickly.
However, any older person interested in joining a Zumba class should consult a health care provider first. This can avoid any unintended injuries or complications. Even people who take regular Zumba classes can suffer knee injuries, as well as back and ankle sprains. A fall during Zumba could also cause a serious fracture, notably a broken hip.
To prevent injuries, many Zumba Gold dance instructors avoid moves where the dancers cross their legs. They also avoid too much hopping, and vigorous twisting and turning.
If it is safe for an older person, the results can be substantial. A study in Japan, looking at women from 72 to 87, found that those who participated in a dance exercise program had better balance and other medical improvements.
For those who are very overweight and want to make sure they do an exercise that has a low-impact on their joints, there is Aqua Zumba. This is a water-based workout that integrates many of the same Zumba exercises.