Not only is Zumba a fun, fast-paced whirl of a good time, but it also has the power to help trim body fat. Although no exercise targets the thighs for fat-burning -- you must lose weight all over to slim your "problem" areas -- Zumba is terrific for torching calories and whipping you into tip-top shape. Pair Zumba with a healthy eating plan, and you'll be well on your way to the svelte thighs you desire.
Zumba combines the thrill of partying at a Latin dance club with the health benefits of an aerobic workout, such as increased heart and lung function and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Throughout Zumba class, you'll alternate between slow and fast beats for interval-style training. The steps are simple enough for novice dancers -- and unlike other cardio dance classes, Zumba allows room for interpretation so you don't need to stress over whether or not your moves are perfect.
Zumba and Slimming
Zumba's fat-burning power varies with class style, but the American Council on Exercise found that, on average, participants burn about 9.5 calories per minute. That would translate into a total expenditure of 380 calories in a 40-minute session. Plus, as an interval activity, Zumba increases your calorie burn for hours after your workout ends. As impressive as the numbers are, you still need to watch your diet to lose weight with Zumba. Your body only sheds fat when you consume fewer calories than you eat -- for every 3,500-calorie deficit, you lose about 1 pound.
Although toning won't affect fat levels, Zumba can sculpt muscles in your thighs and elsewhere for a defined, lean appearance. Zumba styles that focus on strength training, such as "Zumba Toning" and "Zumba in the Circuit," offer greater thigh-shaping ability than cardio-only Zumba styles. If you don't have strength-training Zumba options in your neighborhood, maximize thigh toning by performing leg presses, squats or lunges in addition to your Zumba routine.
Ditch the thigh fat for good by making physical activity a staple in your weekly routine. For maximum weight loss, perform Zumba or other cardio activities, such as jogging, cycling or swimming, five days per week. Try experimenting with a variety of exercises or Zumba styles to keep things fresh and avoid hitting a plateau. You also need strength training for your entire body at least twice weekly for good balance and strength. If your Zumba class doesn't have this covered, lift weights or perform body-weight moves such as pushups and crunches. If you're new to exercise, consult with your doctor before starting a new routine.
Nina K. is a Los Angeles-based journalist who has been published by USAToday.com, Fitday.com, Healthy Living Magazine, Organic Authority and numerous other print and web publications. She has a philosophy degree from the University of Colorado and a journalism certificate from UCLA.