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New Clinical Trial Helps Participants Dance to a Healthier Lifestyle


By Michelle Brubaker   |   June 26, 2012

Physical activity offers a variety of benefits to reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and for the first time, researchers at the UC San Diego School of Medicine are evaluating the effectiveness of popular Latin-based exercise Zumba Fitness as part of a new clinical trial.

The primary goal of the pilot study is to compare the adherence of Zumba classes to pedometer-assisted walking.  Example:  Will the Zumba group be more likely to attend 75 percent of their classes or will the pedometer-assisted walking group be more likely to walk 6,000 steps at least three times a day?

The second goal is to determine if waist girth, blood pressure, fasting blood glucose and triglycerides decrease and HDL cholesterol improves after three months of Zumba and pedometer assisted walking.

“We are thrilled to conduct the first research study involving Zumba Fitness.  Exercise has to be fun and sometimes culturally relevant for optimal results,” said Happy Araneta, PhD, associate professor at the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

The three month trial is currently recruiting participants, who will be screened over the phone and evaluated during a clinic visit for eligibility. 

“We are particularly interested in enrolling Latina women to determine if adherence to physical activity is improved when a culturally relevant activity like Zumba - based on Latin and Caribbean music and dance - is offered,” said Araneta.

If eligible, participants will complete dietary and lifestyle questionnaires, be randomly assigned to either the Zumba Fitness or pedometer-guided walking group and will have blood drawn at the beginning and end of the study to measure glucose, triglycerides and HDL cholesterol.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Between the ages of 21 and 65-years-old
  • Overweight with a waistline greater than 31.5 inches (women) or 37 inches (men)
  • And at least one of the following:
    • High blood pressure
    • High cholesterol
    • High glucose levels
    • Exercise less than 150 minutes per week

Exclusionary Criteria:

  • Pregnancy
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Respiratory disease (including exercise induced asthma)
  • Chronic hip pain
  • Knee or foot pain in the past six months
  • Taking diabetes, weight loss and chemotherapeutic medications
  • Mobility impairment
  • Experience with Zumba Fitness, dance or vigorous walking within the past six months

For more information on the Zumba Fitness Clinical Trial, please call 858-534-8113 or e-mail

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