Aerobic Benefits of Zumba on Elderly

Groove to the Beat to Keep Your Heart Beat

A Review of the Aerobic Benefits of Zumba on Elderly People

We all get old, and we cannot prevent that from happening. But at least, we can do something to potentially delay its debilitating effects on our health and well‑being. Exercise!!!

One form of exercise that has been getting attention is Zumba. It is a Latin‑inspired, interval‑style aerobic exercise, which is pretty much similar to the basic or traditional aerobic workout, but this one combines high energy and appealing music that allows participants to dance, and literally, to have fun and feel happy. It is a workout for both the body and the mind. Considering the impact of aging on the psychological wellbeing of an old person, the music beat lends itself to making the workout more engaging contributing to the social aspect and motivation.

Zumba offers a number of benefits for elderly people, both aerobically and anaerobically, paying to the overall wellness of the old individual. Taking into consideration the age and the possible cardiovascular risks, sessions for elders are limited to low intensity, long duration aerobic fitness.

  • Aerobic exercise: fitness enthusiasts often call it “cardio.” It means “requiring oxygen” and is utilized in low-intensity, long-duration exercises like swimming, running, or cycling.
  • Anaerobic exercise: it means “without oxygen” and involves quick bursts of energy performed at maximum effort for a short period of time. Examples include jumping, sprinting, or heavy weight lifting.

Zumba helps one reach the target heart rate much easier and more efficiently compared to any standard workout routines. The fast pace dictated by the beat of the music makes it feel natural to move around rapidly while building up cardiovascular endurance. But of course, the rhythm depends on the current level of the participants. In this case, sessions should be elderly friendly.

The level of training Zumba demands helps to burn calories derived from fat. But as we age, our ability to burn calories slows down because of physical inactivity resulting to steady gain in weight. Basal metabolic rate decreases with age because of decreased physical activity resulting to atrophic changes to the muscles. Furthermore, increased energy intake with physical inactivity leads to abdominal fat accumulation causing glucose intolerance (Shimokata and Kuzuya, 1993). This increases the risk of health problems, including diabetes. All of these can be reverse through exercises like Zumba.


As we age, our heart and blood vessels become stiffer. The heart fills with blood more slowly and the arteries are less able to expand when filled with blood resulting in increased blood pressure. Zumba gets your heart rate pumping as you dance to the music with constant movement improving cardio endurance. The higher the heart rate response, the more blood is pumped through the arteries that deliver oxygenated blood to all the body parts. And just like any other workout, Zumba can help reduce the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol in older people.

The number of air sacs and capillaries in the lungs decreases with aging. This means less oxygen is absorbed from the air that is breathed in making exercising more difficult. Zumba can be modified depending on the fitness level and progressed to a more intense one when needed. As it is an endurance training, pulmonary function improves over time as one adjusts to the intensity as it progresses.


Besides making the heart and lungs strong, exercises strengthen muscles and bones. I think everybody knows that, but for an elderly, it’s basically important in preventing decreased muscle mass and decreased bone density which results in eventual muscle weakness and decreased ability to bear weight leaving an individual more sedentary, which means more weakening. Physical inactivity common to older people, especially bed rest during an illness, can greatly accelerate the loss.

Zumba combines fast and slow rhythms at low to high impact full body workout utilizing different muscle groups, thereby developing strength, power and coordination to maintain independence as one ages. Constant jumping and bouncing moves involve in Zumba sessions help prevent loss of bone mass, builds muscle, and improves balance, which are important for staying active and reducing the risk of falls. Zumba can improve speed, flexibility and coordination improving reaction time in case one trips or loses balance, which is a problem to old people. It also alleviates the symptoms of chronic conditions such as arthritis.

Both the cardiovascular pulmonary and musculoskeletal benefits of Zumba add up to the total aerobic fitness of old people. Zumba utilizes a larger number of muscle groups. This makes the muscles strong, and the stronger the muscles are, the more increase in the capacity to do physical work for a long period of time and the stronger and more efficient the heart and lungs are.


It’s fun. The more engaging the exercise routine is, the more likely you are to participate. Older people may have so much fun dancing that they forget they are actually exercising. Aerobic exercises get the heart beating faster and the lungs working efficiently.

Zumba is a versatile and trendy fitness program. It benefits individuals of any fitness level, the elderly people included. And like any other exercise regimen, doctors, or even physiotherapists, should absolutely be consulted first to make sure that this is not putting an elderly at any risk. It can be a great way to work out, as long as there is a period of time during the workout where you are actually working hard and your body needs to work hard in order to keep up with you. If you manage to get along with this, then no matter what you choose to do, Zumba can be a creative way to do aerobics.

Shimokata H., Kuzuya F. (1993). Aging, basal metabolic rate, and nutrition. Nihon Ronen IgakkaiZasshi 30 572–576. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]





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