7 reasons seniors should try Zumba

Exercise is a crucial component of senior living, but finding a fun and engaging activity can be difficult for adults who enjoy working out along with friends or loved ones. Seniors looking for a social and satisfying exercise should consider Zumba, a group fitness program that blends dancing with more traditional movements, like squats and lunges. 

Participants follow along with an instructor, and everyone gets a great workout without the intimidation or frustrations of a normal gym session. If you haven't already caught on to the Zumba craze, here a few reasons you might want to give it a try.

"Zumba can burn more calories than running, lifting weights or riding a bike."

1. Burn calories
You need to burn off some energy somehow, so why not do it while dancing? According to the HealthStatus calorie calculator, an hour of Zumba burns 540 calories for a 150 pound person. That's more than you'd burn if you spent just as much time running, lifting weights or riding a bike, and you'll probably have more fun while doing it! To get the most out of your workout, make sure you're moving your entire body during each session, engaging your arms and legs at the same time.

2. Get a total body workout
Dancing may not sound like such a tough workout, but an hour of Zumba will work your body from head to toe. Moving back and forth and side to side will use every part of your lower body, and most of the dance moves also have you moving your arms and shoulders in rhythm with the music. Combined with the program's body weight squats, lunges, curls and arm raises, you enjoy just as good a workout as you'd receive in a traditional gym setting.

3. Boost heart health
Zumba has been found to lower blood pressure, increase circulation and improve overall cardiovascular health. The exercise provides the benefits of an aerobic workout with the advantages of one that purely consists of stretches.

4. Exercise in an encouraging atmosphere
It can be difficult to motivate yourself to get to the gym, especially when you work out alone. On the other hand, Zumba classes are filled with like-minded people who want to get in shape just as much as you do. Alice Gross, an 85-year-old Zumba enthusiast, explained to Fox News that the Zumba environment made her feel both healthier and younger.

"It keeps you healthy, it keeps you alive, it keeps you young," Gross told Fox News. "I don't feel 85. I don't think about it."

Zumba blends dancing and stretching for a heart-healthy workout.Zumba blends dancing and stretching for a heart-healthy workout.

5. Stick with it easily 
It's common for people to struggle with exercise regimens they find painful, exhausting or boring. Fortunately, most Zumba participants report that the program doesn't even feel like a "real" workout. Between the fun dance moves, encouragement from peers and lively music, it's easy to look forward to your next Zumba session.

6. Don't worry about your dancing ability
Zumba is not only fun, it's effective for people of all skill levels. Whether you've danced your whole life or have never set foot on a dance floor, the workouts can be adapted to your skills and fitness level. If you can't follow along with every move, you can still keep rhythm with the music with simpler exercises. You can also slowly ramp up your intensity as you gain more experience and get into better shape.

7. Participate in a safe alternative
Jogging, lifting weights and other traditional forms of exercise are certainly proven to be effective, but they can wreak havoc on anyone's joints. If you already suffer from arthritis, osteoporosis or other bone and joint problems, working out can feel even tougher. Because it's relatively low impact and doesn't require extra weights or resistance, Zumba is a safe way to work around these issues while still getting an effective workout.