Working out in the presence of others may make you competitive and inclined to work harder.
There's no doubt that running is one of the most beneficial forms of exercise out there - but it doesn't have to be the only tool in your fitness toolbox. Plenty of other activities will get your heart pumping and help you burn a significant amount of calories, including Zumba, the popular form of dance fitness.
Estimate the Calories
The number of calories you'll burn during any activity depends on your age, weight and the intensity at which you're doing that exercise. That can make side-by-side comparisons difficult, but expect to burn roughly the same number of calories doing Zumba as you would while jogging. According to a study conducted by the American Council on Exercise, Zumba participants burned about 9.5 calories per minute. That's about the same number of calories a 120-pound person will burn while jogging at a moderate pace - about 9.3 calories per minute. Speed up to a "running" pace, however, and that 120-pound person will burn more like 11.4 calories per minute --- a lot more than Zumba.
Monitor Your Heart Rate
Running may burn more calories per minute, but Zumba classes tend to last 45 minutes to an hour or more - so you'd have to run an equal amount of time to burn more calories running than you would during a Zumba class. And since there's the potential for variation in intensity, one of the only ways to determine which exercise will help you burn more calories is to try them. Wear a heart rate monitor or test your heart rate manually during each of the two workouts. The one that elicits a more rapid heart rate is probably the bigger calorie-burner for you.
Maximize Your Calorie Burn
No matter which exercise you choose, you can control the intensity to up your calorie burn. Torch more cals when running by adding intervals. That could include sprinting in between intervals of jogging, interrupting your run to perform a set of burpees, or running with high knees for 60 seconds at a time to increase the intensity. Increase your calorie burn at Zumba by really performing each move with intention. Jumping a little higher and extending your arms and legs during the movements help you put the most energy into each move.
Choose One Over the Other
The number of calories you'll burn during any activity shouldn't be the only basis for choosing. For one, variety is key to avoiding to training plateaus. Your body is incredibly good at adapting to the demands you're putting on it, and by mixing it up you'll keep your muscles guessing. Having multiple exercises to choose from can also prevent boredom and provide options: When you're in the mood for a party atmosphere or being with others, Zumba may be a good choice; running is an option when you want to explore a new park or when you crave a little solitude. Don't limit yourself to one exercise just because it promises more calorie burn.