Gratitude is a feeling we’re reading a lot about at the moment. It’s on all social media posts, podcasts, and how we end our fitness classes. It turns out that gratitude is connected to all kinds of things, including our happiness and optimism. Gratitude is a feeling that lessens stress and enhances overall health.
But I want to focus on a different, deeper kind of gratitude. I'm not talking about the the 'thank yous', or the cards, or the talk. This is not the gratitude where I get something and now I show that I'm thankful.
There’s a deeper gratitude that I want to speak of. The Oxford Dictionary defines gratitude as seeking "to return kindness". Gratitude wants to complete the circle, it wants to give back. The kind of gratitude I am talking about does not in fact need words although, paradoxically, it is often found within conversation. It is the gratitude that is naturally emitted right in the midst of a meaningful relationship. It is the gratitude that is so obviously transparent when you are with someone who wants to be in your company, who is so clearly listening to everything you say, whose expressions leave nothing other than the realization that they are delighted to be with you.
My mother is one of the most grateful people I know. She is fighting a horrible battle of pancreatic cancer. She is a simple women who was raised on a farm in Italy and began working in the fields at the age of 8 taking care of the animals and her younger siblings. Her deep desire was to become a nun and serve God but her parents had other plans for her. She is a fierce woman who married a charming young man, my deceased father, and together they moved to Canada with no money and not speaking a word of English. They lived a simple happy life and raised 3 daughters, me being the youngest. They had just enough money to splurge on KFC take-off once a month and we looked forward to that meal every month. My father passed away at the age the young age 50 leaving my mother scared and confused on how to write a cheque and pay a bill at the bank. Fairness and good fortune were not her experience of life; rather, she faced a hard life with much loss and sadness. She never had money to spare and hers was a simple life as a result. But I never met a more grateful person in my life.
Have you ever been in a conversation in which the person is really listening to every word you are saying? That they’re not formulating in their head what to say next or turn the conversation back on them? How special do you feel when you are truly being heard. It’s an absolutely brilliant feeling! I’m the youngest in the family and gave my mother the most difficult time never wanting to conform to the norm but when entered the room, there was never any doubt that she was grateful for me, not just grateful for something I had done or something I had given her, but for me. Her gratitude for me came without judgment or expectation. Her gratitude in just being connected to me.
Next time your child, spouse or friend enters the room, give gratitude for their presence and not as an attached to something. We are grateful for how well our children are doing at school, in sports, in music and we should but remember the deeper gratitude of pure joy of sitting without judgement or expectation and just listening to someone. Gratitude helps us accept their imperfections and their limitations.
As we enter the holiday season, look towards gratitude, that deep gratitude. It is in gratitude that we realize we are blessed; it is there that we connect and it is there that our relationships grow.
Be not selfish, but selfless.
Give in the spirit of love,
Through caring actions and good works.
There's no doubt that our community members, family and friends have gone through unbelievable changes in the past 8 months dealing with uncertainty. We did not train for this pandemic like we would have for a marathon yet this rapid change has taught us the importance of self-care.
Here are a few tips and strategies to help you support yourself and those you love by Dr. Bagnell
Strategy #1: Prioritize Self Care
What do you need to do to take care of yourself? Regular activity and staying connected to people who are important. Find a division between work life and home life. A pandemic can wreck havoc of your sleep. Help cope with stress by getting a good nights rest, eating well, finding time to relax and adding physical activity to your self care routine. What are you going to do?
Strategy #2: Be Mindful
When you notice your mind going forward or worrying, use the STOP technique. Stop. Take a Breath. Observe and accept the thought. Proceed with picking 5 things you see, feel and hear. This brings sensory information to the brain and helps calm your brain down. Mindfulness in the moment strategies help be in the present moment.
Strategy #3: Routine and Communication
Set up a normal routine as much as possible. Over-communicate during times we are stressed as we remember less especially if we’re more isolated.
Strategy #4: Emotions - Validation & Encouragement
People will have a wide range of emotions during this pandemic and every emotion is valid. Be patient, show compassion, kindness and encouragement.
Strategy #5: Focus on positives and what you can do to keep it real
When we’re tired we focus more on the negative. Focus on the positive AND keep it real. What do you know? Example: our country is doing well; we have a strong support system; we have great healthcare. Empower your loved ones to find positives in this and giving thanks.
Strategy #6: Positive Thinking
We go right to the negative so try to think of 2 positives. Set a new tradition/routine with family and say 2 positive things first when you arrive home from work, during dinner or before bed. Set positive goals for each week but be sure not a big goals. Small is better right now .
Strategy #7: Let go of the things you can't control
It's exhausting to focus on what you can’t control. Stay on the inside of the circle where you have control. Limit your media use especially following links which leads you down a rabbit hole. Try removing all social media apps from your phone so that you limit your use.
Strategy #8: Stay Connected
We are social beings and need to be connected. Build them into your life and be creative with the activities you do.
Strategy #9: Use Humour
It's a great brain stress reducer!
Tips from CanFitPro Website
With the constant demands on our time & responsibilities, it can be easy to neglect our health, making excuses that there isn’t enough time to eat right, exercise, or take breaks. But by not prioritizing your health, you perpetuate the problem and continue to lack the energy needed to find balance & happiness.
Here are 5 ways to get back on track for 2020
1. MAKE EXERCISE A PRIORITY
Whether that is through a structured routine or just through moving more throughout the day. Choose healthy food options by focusing on eating whole, real foods, not processed, convenience foods. And remember to take breaks every hour or so to stretch, adjust your posture, take some deep breaths, or take a short walk.
2. AVOID THE NEGATIVITY
Stop beating yourself up! Falling off track doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you or that you lack willpower, it means you’re human that's making positive changes & that's something to be proud.
Talk to yourself as you would to a family member. Never feel guilty or ashamed for trying.
3. REALIZE YOU’RE NOT STARTING BACK AT SQUARE ONE
One of the most demoralizing parts of getting back on track is thinking that you’ve lost all your progress and have to start back at square one. This isn't true. When you miss a few workouts, you will begin to lose some strength, muscle mass, and aerobic endurance. But when you start back up again, you’ll make progress faster because your body will be ready.
4. SEE EACH SLIP-UP AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN
Framing your failures as learning opportunities is a great way to feel better & get better. Instead of dwelling on the fact that something went wrong, figure what exactly went wrong and why.
Sometimes it’s an obvious thing, like you got sick or injured and fell out of the habit. But sometimes it’s not so obvious and it’s worth thinking about to figure out if there’s something you could do differently next time. Maybe that means readjusting your goals to make them more realistic. Perhaps it’s about finding ways to make getting active more convenient and take up less time. It will depend on your situation and what you’re trying to accomplish, but think about it, and develop strategies that work for you.
5. FIND WAYS TO MAKE IT MORE SUSTAINABLE
Though our specific goals vary, in general, we’re all hoping to make change last. Try to keep that in mind when you start again by using practical tips like:
A HELPFUL WAY TO THINK ABOUT IT
Often the worst part of getting back on track is feeling like we have to walk back to the starting line. It can end up feeling like we’re getting farther and farther away from our goals. Like we’re taking one step forward and two steps back.
A good way to avoid this trap is to picture yourself picking up the starting line and bringing it with you. There’s no doubt that at some point or another, you’re going to drop it or get tired and have to set it down—that’s part of trying, part of being human, part of the process.
But if you pick up the starting line, there’s no need to make the sad walk back to the beginning. When you build up the motivation to start again, you won’t be starting over, you’ll be starting right back where you left off, continuing on your path toward your goals.
Pick up the starting line and bring it with you, push the starting line closer and closer to your goal, and each time you start again you'll be that much closer to reaching the finish line.
Brene Brown, a researcher on courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy talks about having a strong back, soft front, and wild heart. Life is full of challenges and whatever you fight, you strengthen. Whatever you resist, you persist. The same holds true when exercise. The more you challenge your body, the stronger you become mentally and physically. Being able to find the strength to stand up after we are knocked down is very difficult but essential. Being resilient is a skill that we must exercise just like strengthening our muscles; we need to strengthen our mind. Brené Brown describes this as having a Strong Back – the ability to bear your load and still move forward. Soft Front is our front that faces people. There is overwhelming evidence that our tone, manner, and ability to relate to others has one of the most profound impacts on how we will succeed. Newton’s Third Law of Motion which Oprah explains as one of the most important laws of physics and in life: "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Everything we do physically, emotionally, financially and spiritually, “the energy you’re putting out right now is coming back to you all the time whether you recognize it or not.”
If you find yourself surrounded by negative people in your life, take a look at the energy you’re putting out there. People are drawn to positive people. Positive people thrive, positive people are less likely to be critics and more likely to be encouragers, positive people develop high levels of emotional intelligence and empathy allowing them to demonstrate a ‘soft front’ in the face of intense and difficult situations. Positive people are more likely to focus on wellness which, of course, adds to their own sense of positivity. Positive people have the ability to cultivate the potential in others.
Don’t be afraid to be brave and vulnerable. Put it all out there and don’t leave anything on the floor. The price is high but the rewards are great.
We are just over a month into the Fall season and it’s easy to notice the change in the air. Mornings are
crisp, evenings are cool, and the beautiful colours that surround us are a reminder of how amazing
nature truly is. There is something truly special about this time of the year.
We are also invited to also see this season as an opportunity to check in with ourselves. The holidays will
be here in just a few weeks and before we get into the busy-ness of everything that the month of
December brings, we have this window of time to really consider our health and wellness.
For some, the Holidays bring on feelings of love, family, companionship, and joy. For others however,
the experience is of overwhelm, loneliness and sadness. Wherever we are in the spectrum, there are
some good habits we can establish to help us along the way.
Starting the day with meditation and/or reflection. Whether you have an extra 30 minutes and an extra
2 minutes, you can do this. Yes, mornings can be hectic but there is so much value in allocating time to
just being. You can use this time to express gratitude, to visualize your goals for the day, or to just
breathe. You don’t need special clothes, extra equipment, or even a guide. You just need to set some
time, set a timer (if you wish), and start.
Get outside. Yes, this is also a good habit. Step away from your desk or your home for even 5 minutes aday. Walking to your car even counts – as long as you take a moment to breathe in that fresh air or to
feel the gentle wind on your face. We often hear the phrase “kids don’t play outside anymore”. Guess
what? Many adults don’t either. The same benefits apply to us. We all need some fresh air daily.
Set a bedtime routine. This one also isn’t just for kids. Our brains are overstimulated throughout the day and we then wonder why we can’t sleep soundly at night. We need to give our minds, bodies, and spiritsan opportunity to wind-down. This could mean taking a warm bath, getting into comfy pajamas, doingsome restorative yoga, etc. It could also mean no TV/cellphone/tablet for 30 minutes before bed. Seems shocking right? Try it for a week and see how you feel.
Each of these habits can be easy or difficult to maintain. The choice is really ours. Will we make time for
wellness or will we make time for illness? You have a community cheering you on. Let us know how you
are doing and reach out to share your experiences on our private Facebook page.
Have a wellness tip you want to share? Post it as well! Your suggestion might just be exactly what
someone else needs in order to Fall in love with their lives.
October is an excellent time to reassess your mental health. As we move toward lower temperatures and shorter days, take some time to check in with yourself.
How are you feeling? What’s your energy like? How are your moods these days? Use this Mental Health Meter from the Canadian Mental Health Association to see how you’re faring on characteristics that make up good mental health.
This Fall, consider implementing a few small changes to your daily routine to support your mental health. Click here to read more.
FIVE TIPS FOR YOUR MENTAL HEALTH (Science of Happiness article)
1. BE PRESENT BY COMMITTING TO LESS SCREEN TIME.
Real life is happening right now. We are missing more and more moments of real-life engagement with ourselves and others by constantly being distracted and tethered to a phone. Make a choice to be present. Dedicate some time at least once a week to being phone-free. Try turning your phone off from 5pm Friday till noon on Saturday and take advantage of that time to be entirely present with your friends, family, partner or yourself. You’re not missing anything online, you’re missing out on real life.
2. GET OUT AND SOCIALIZE!
Don’t let yourself prematurely hibernate. Call that friend to reconnect over a coffee and a walk. It’s not winter yet, so don’t let a chilly day deter you – dress appropriately (layers are key!). Wondering what to talk about? See tip #3.
3. GET INSPIRED!
Plan your winter getaway. Imagine yourself snowshoeing in the mountains or walking along a sandy beach. Where do you want to explore? What do you want to do? Planning a trip gives you something to look forward to and acts as excellent motivation to get moving now, so you can be happy, strong and energized for your adventures!
4. GET A GOOD SLEEP!
Sleep is critical to our moods—aiming for 7-8 hours per night is best. Are you feeling well-rested? If not, try to start your nighttime routine earlier by turning off screens (tip #1!) and cue your mind to relax by reading a book, listening to music or taking a bath. Can’t sleep because you have a busy mind that just won’t slow down? See tip #5.
5. GET MOVING!
Movement clears the head. Think about movement as a tool to flush away stress and anxiety. Getting your heart rate up releases feel-good endorphins. Start small, with little bits of movement built into your day. Walk 15 minutes by getting off public transit a few stops earlier. Take the stairs at work. Add a 20-minute lunch break walk outside to your daily routine (even connect with a pal, tip #2!)—it will do wonders for your mental health.
Like a lot of people I’m very curious about my Zodiac sign, it's mostly for fun but interesting all at the same time…I’m an Aries, 4 days in … I also know that
I have a bit of Pisces in me… now I don’t believe that all people with the same zodiac sign are identical but I do think that they have a lot of similar traits… Astrology is an ancient language that tells a story about your unique personality, purpose and journey through life. How does the sun sign influence your workout? The planetary point within your personal astrology can help to decide the type of workout that feeds your desire of workout and keeps your energy flowing.
With that being said looking at Pure Energy Fitness we offer different classes that suit everyone and all signs… all you have to do is get yourself there(First class is free) (Plus new members can get a 1 month pass to try out all classes for only $40). We are a strong and heartfelt community and when you join the PEF community you’re family, we genuinely embrace everyone with love and kindness and we have a lot of fun. That’s what family is all about. We want you to feel like you can be yourself with individuals that motivate, encourage and accept with love. Here's what we offer at pef:
Zumba: Set to music, you burn a lot of calories without realizing it. It's a high energy aerobic workout that involves muscle conditioning, balance and flexibility and lots of dancing with different and fun choreo that’s great for core strengthening and a total body workout.
Zumba Strong: High Energy, kickboxing/HIIT/martial arts inspired exercise that provides a challenging total body workout led by music to motivate. Think burpees pushups and other high impact moves that's synced to music.
Zumba Toning: (part of Zumba classes) emphasizes strengthening by incorporating weights to build muscle in the arms, legs and glutes, back and chest.
Pilates: Transforming the way your body looks, feels and performs. The art of controlled movements, that improves flexibility, builds strength, lengthens, develops control and endurance in the entire body. It’s a mind, body control workout that puts emphasis on alignment, breathing and developing a strong core and improving coordination and balance..
Yoga: Improves your mental and physical health as well as focus on breath work, flowing postures and mindful meditation. The adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practices for health and relaxation.
Since I absolutely love fitness it’s cool to see what workout is best for each sign… so here we go… it’s a little bit of fun so please don’t take it too seriously but if you’re like me it’s intriguing and makes you go hmmm…
Since Aries is the first sign in Zodiac system… let’s start with that
Aries: March 21-April 20: is a cardinal fire sign, which explains why we are always on the move. We can’t sit still for too long (so true) or you get bored, so for exercise try where Aires doesn't lose interest… So Zumba Pilates, Zumba toning and Zumba strong to keep you motivated and even mix it up with Yoga for a little Zen, which Aries needs every once in a while after they burn their candles at both ends lol.
Taurus: April 21-May 21: a fixed air sign known for being a chill, calm stabilizer, that fully embrace the sustaining power of the physical body. The challenge with this sign is getting outside the comfort zone of their usual fitness routine. Low impact and strength focused workouts are best. Zumba, Yoga and Pilates will do you well.
Gemini: May 21-June 21: a mutable air sign, is energized by an adaptable curiosity and desire to learn and express. Gemini is known for being an intellectually alert thinker. To avoid boredom ensure you stay focused during your workout. Pilates and Zumba are best for you.
Cancer: June 21-July 23: is a cardinal water sign and they are motivated by intentional activity that engages the emotional body and provides a release for all that energy. Embrace positive vibes and clear out any emotional stagnation through a light effective activity. Yoga is best for Cancer.
Leo: July 23 to August 22: a fixed fire sign, but Leo is driven to succeed with unwavering passion and enthusiasm. Typically the life of the party, and very creative. Zumba and Zumba toning is your best workout that will keep you coming back for more!
Virgo: August 23-September 22: is a mutable earth sign who love to learn and improve and are efficient. Not unusual for Virgo’s to find yourselves dotting every I, and crossing every T. Zumba and Zumba toning and Zumba strong is your best workout.
Libra: September 23-October 22: a cardinal air sign, is a friendly, peaceful cooperator whose interests including finding balance and making things well. They are stimulated by thought and conversation. They also like to get caught up in what others are thinking or doing. Libra’s best workout is Pilates to get in control of your mind and body and Zumba Strong to add a little extra challenge.
Scorpio: October 23-November 22: a fixed water sign, finds energy in intense emotional connection. They need a workout where they don’t dive too deep and get lost in intensity. Zumba toning and Zumba Strong is your best work out to be able to release emotion through powerful movements.
Sagittarius: November 22-December 22: a mutable fire sign, are motivated by the freedom to explore and grow. They are the best athletes of all the signs. They possess great stamina but only if they are connected to your body, mind and spirit. High intense Pilates, Zumba Strong and Zumba are your best workouts.
Capricorn: December 22-January 19: cardinal earth sign, are very disciplined, driven by structure and form. Choose a workout that emphasizes power and muscle control which will help you accomplish your goals... Pilates is your perfect workout.
Aquarius: January 20-February 18: a fixed air sign, they love the big picture thinking and actions, they are great at being an individual while surrounded by a group and your best workout would be Zumba and Zumba toning where you can be amongst friends and also enjoy the cardio at your speed!
Pisces: February 19-March 20: a mutable water sign, driven by emotional fluidity and deep inner work, you're empathetic and loved. You sometimes can feel a little too much so the best bet is to stay focused and do Yoga for your ideal workout.
Whether you believe in astrology or not, whether you're a Leo or an Aquarius, it does kind of put in perspective why some people like certain workouts more than others. Pure Energy Fitness has something for all Zodiac signs, Zumba, (Zumba Toning), Zumba Strong, Pilates and Yoga.
Enjoy and see you in class.
Written By Evolution Fitness for ACE
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has become hugely popular thanks to real results in shorter periods of time and extensive benefits. With busy schedules the norm, it’s no wonder so many clients and potential clients are now seeking out these kinds of workouts.
HIIT, which involves repeated sessions of relatively brief, intermittent exercise, usually performed at very high intensity, can be easily modified for various client needs and fitness levels. When combined with an expert nutrition program, personalized HIIT programs can elicit serious results and health benefits, including:
General Nutrition to Support a H.I.I.T. ProgramTo get the most out of any fitness program, clients should follow a healthy meal plan in general. Effective and well-rounded nutrition programs are based on a variety of healthful ingredients such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins. The best nutrition plans provide adequate calories and macronutrients such as carbohydrates to fuel the body and provide energy stores for workouts. It’s important that these are expertly created programs that allow you to stay within your scope of practice and prevent clients adopting a restrictive diet that may inhibit their success. Adequate water is also a must to ensure complete hydration during workouts.
Pre-workout Nutrition for HIITDue to the intensity of these workouts, it’s vital to follow a healthy nutrition plan with adequate nutrition in the days and hours leading up to a workout. Plan on a moderate- to high-carbohydrate meal that also includes protein approximately three to four hours before the HIIT workout, and then another high-carbohydrate snack within an hour after the workout. Good options for a pre-workout meal include:
Summertime is my favorite season from hiking in the woods, relaxing by the pool & socializing on the patio with friends and family - it’s all pretty great.
The unfortunate downside is that our active routines quickly goes out the window. So that’s why September is all about getting back in the groove and for many that’s easier said than done. Kids are just getting back to school, the days are getting shorter, and after a couple months of not doing much, it can be a little harder picking up where you left off – especially when it comes to exercising.
It’s like Newton said, "objects in motion, stay in motion". Once you’ve stopped, it can be hard to regain lost momentum.
With that in mind, here are some tips that will help you overcome the most common challenges and increase your chances of getting back into an active routine.
1. RENEW YOUR COMMITMENT
To make a change stick, you have to fully commit. You can’t just want to start exercising again without a plan. Write down in specific detail, how your goal will be achieved. How will you know you're making progress? Why is it important for you to achieve this goal? What are you willing to commit to in order to achieve it? Set milestone markers along the way to measure your progress.
2. START SUPER TINY
Starting small sets you up for success. It makes it easy. It makes you feel good and gives you something to celebrate, helping to create a positive feedback loop.
Celebrate your win and when then you do, you feel even better. And the cycle repeats. And remember that setbacks don't make you a failure. The key here is making it really, really tiny. So tiny that you’d never want to skip it. So tiny that you’d be embarrassed not to complete it. Think 2 pushups, a five-minute walk, or just going outside.
That’s all it takes to start getting into a good cycle, then a good rhythm, and before you know it, an active routine and it becomes a habit.
3. TINY, BUT FREQUENT
Quick and easy is good, but you also want to aim for often because half the decisions we make every day are out of habit. So, the key is making one (or a few) of those daily habits more active. Think of things like taking the stairs instead of the escalator, or stretching for a few minutes when you wake up, or doing ten squats while you’re waiting for your coffee to brew.
Tiny, but frequent. When you’re talking about exercising, the magic number seems to be at least 3 times a week.
4. HAVE A TRIGGER
Habits are easier to form if they take place immediately after something you already do. That’s why sneaking in some light activity as soon as you wake up, or after you brush your teeth, works well. You’re less likely to forget, or make an excuse, because you have a reliable trigger.
Some other good ones are right before or right after you eat lunch, as soon as you get to work or right when you get home (if you work pretty regular hours), or before you go to sleep. Anything that you do consistently at about the same time every day can work.
5. DON’T RELY ON MOTIVATION
Finally, one of the biggest myths about forming a new habit is that it takes a huge amount of motivation.
This myth is a problem because, as I’m sure you’re aware, motivation comes and goes. You might be pumped about getting active right now, but what about next week? What about when you’re all snuggled in your sofa after dinner?
The solution? Stop relying on motivation alone. You’re not always going to feel motivated and that’s okay. That’s why focusing on forming a habit is so important. Because once it becomes a habit, once it becomes a normal part of your routine, you won’t need motivation. You’ll just do it because it’s what you do.
We’ve covered the five big ones, but there’s plenty of other smaller things you can do to get on track, like:
Make your goals measurable so you can identify exactly what it is you will see, hear and feel when
you reach your goal. Being happier is not evidence; not smoking anymore because you adhere to
a healthy lifestyle where you eat vegetables twice a day and fat only once a week, is.
Measurable goals can go a long way in refining what exactly it is that you want, too. Defining the
physical manifestations of your goal or objective makes it clearer, and easier to reach. Built in
criteria to measure yourself against. How do you know you’ve reached your goal? I want to
make more money….by how much more? I want to exercise more…I will go to class 3 times
a week. You need to measure yourself to the goal. An objective target allows you to set
markers and milestones along the way so you can chart your progress.
We experience the strongest positive emotion when we make progress on our difficult goals
Published by Time Health
Zumba was born in Colombia in the 1990s, quite by accident. A fitness instructor forgot to bring his usual workout music to class, so he grabbed some Latin albums from his car, ditched the constraints of a traditional workout and danced just like he would at a club. His class followed along, sweating to the salsa and rumba beats, and loving it.
Since then, Zumba has pitched itself as more of a party than a workout. Indeed, some research suggests it may be the very best workout for people who hate to exercise.
A Zumba class is like any other instructor-led workout, but with simple dance moves heavy on the hips and step counts. Those moves add up to a decent sweat, says John Porcari, a professor of exercise and sport science at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. He and his colleagues analyzed a group of women who were Zumba regulars and found that a 40-minute class burns about 370 calories, a little more than nine calories per minute. That’s roughly the same amount you’d work off if you ran at a slow-ish pace or biked at 15 miles per hour for the same amount of time.
People worked hard in the class, too. “We found that they exercised at about 80% of maximum heart rate, and 60% V02 max,” which is a measure of oxygen used during exercise, he says. “We found it’s a pretty good workout—similar to moderately intense exercises like step aerobics or cardio kickboxing.”
But the most impressive part of Zumba is how much it appeals to people who stay away from exercise. A study in the American Journal of Health Behavior showed that when women with type 2 diabetes and obesity did Zumba three times a week for 16 weeks, they lost an average of 2.5 pounds and lowered their percentage of body fat by 1%. More importantly, the women enjoyed the class so much that they made it a habit—very unusual for an aerobic exercise program. “After the study had ended, most the participants continued going,” says study coauthor Jamie Cooper, an associate professor at the University of Georgia. “It seems like most of them had fun, made friends and didn’t see Zumba as hard work."
The workout-in-disguise has unique physical and mental health benefits. Another study linked Zumba’s hip-swinging, stomach-gyrating movements to increased core and trunk strength and better balance in older overweight women. After just eight weeks, the women’s quality-of-life scores jumped 9% and their self-esteem increased 16%. A related study on Zumba’s psychological benefits found that people who practice it feel more independent and said that their lives seemed more purposeful.
It’s not hard to see why the activity would be invigorating and freeing. “You have to let go and have fun during Zumba,” Cooper says. Just as some people with anxiety take improv classes to relieve their social skittishness, dancing around other people may help Zumba-goers feel less shy or self-conscious about their bodies.
The workout may be especially helpful for older adults who can't run or do more intense workouts (or for those who don't want to). One 2015 study found that even scaled-back versions of Zumba can help older adults keep up their cardiovascular fitness. More broadly, plenty of evidence suggests that dancing can help seniors maintain balance and coordination, lowering their risk for falls.Zumba is never going to compete with workouts like CrossFit or high-intensity interval training when it comes to physical fitness gains. “But not everyone is the type to sign up for CrossFit,” Cooper says. “There’s still a place for Zumba, because people really enjoy it.”