The effectiveness of an 8-week Zumba programme for weight reduction in a group of Maltese overweight and obese women



Zumba dance exercises are promoted for body weight reduction. However, scientific research on its potential as a weight loss tool is scant. Only a few energy expenditure studies on small samples of relatively young and apparently healthy volunteers were performed, and the energy cost of Zumba has not been translated into actual weight reduction. The study investigated the before–after effects of a Zumba programme on the weight and body mass index (BMI) of 36 females, mean age 34.25 ± 8.50 years and mean BMI 32.98 ± 5.32 kg/m2.


The intervention involved 16 hourly Zumba sessions held twice weekly over 8 weeks. The exercises comprised a mixture of merengue, salsa, reggaeton and bachata with warm-up and cool-down activities. They were of low-impact style, but were maintained at vigorous intensity that was still bearable for the obese subjects. An important requirement was that the programme had to be taken as an additional part of their lives and not as a means of altering their nutrition and physical activity habits.


The subjects had statistically significant decreases and large effects for weight and BMI: 2.13 kg, t (35) = 13.77, P < 0.0005, d = 2.30, and 0.83 kg/m2, t (35) = 13.02, P < 0.0005, d = 2.17, respectively.


Good programme adherence and other strengths were attributed to this study. However, there could have been factors like history threats that affected the changes. Further studies are therefore required to establish the effectiveness of Zumba as an exercise modality for weight loss.

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The author thanks Mrs. June Sampson and Prof. Antony Stewart from Staffordshire University for their support. Further acknowledgements go to the Malta Sports Council (KMS) and the Ministry of Health for allowing the author sufficient time to do the necessary research and preparations for this study. The permission from the KMS and the University of Malta to use their hall for the Zumba sessions is also appreciated. Gratitude is extended to the Zumba instructress, Ms. Johanna Refalo, who was an asset for the success of the programme. Further gratitude is expressed to the technical assistance of Mr. William Galea, a KMS Executive Officer. This paper was not supported by any funding body.

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Correspondence to Charles Micallef.

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Micallef, C. The effectiveness of an 8-week Zumba programme for weight reduction in a group of Maltese overweight and obese women. Sport Sci Health 10, 211–217 (2014).

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  • Body mass index
  • Body weight
  • Obesity
  • Overweight
  • Weight loss
  • Zumba