How many calories do you really burn during Zumba? Yeah, it is a blast to go to, but could I burn the same calories in 30 minutes on an elliptical? —Amy W. via Facebook
It’s awesome you’re focused on getting the most out of cardio. Studies show cardiovascular exercise can reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes and lower blood pressure
That said, your heart rate and how heavily you’re breathing are good cues as to how hard the body is working, and, in turn, how many calories you’re burning. Personally, the loud music and crazy moves in Zumba class trick me into working a lot harder than when it’s just me and the elliptical (and the TV…), but every person’s different. To gauge your own exercise intensity, consider this: At moderate intensity, you’re not out of breath, but breathing is quicker; you can carry on a conversation, but singing would be a challenge. At vigorous intensity, you’re breathing fast and heavy, and can only say a few words between breaths. If that seems a little too ambiguous, try taking your heart rate.
How hard you’re working will determine how long you should spend exercising each week for optimal health. For example, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity
I love chocolate. Do you know any recipes that are chocolaty but still (relatively) healthy? —Kate N.
Good news, Kate: You are totally asking the right person. I’m of the opinion that dinner (or breakfast or lunch) isn’t over until I’ve had something sweet— preferably chocolate. But it doesn’t always have to equal unhealthy. In fact, on its own, dark chocolate is pretty healthy, packing in the antioxidants. Given the choice, definitely choose dark chocolate over white or milk chocolate.
In the realm of pre-made snacks, Kashi TLC Dark Chocolate Coconut bars are a pretty good option, as long as you think of them as a candy bar rather than a healthy lunch alternative. If you’re an ice cream junkie, try Self magazine’s peppermint ice cream trifle. The no-sugar-added vanilla ice cream base makes this dessert surprisingly waistline-friendly. Cutting out the flour in baked goods also makes them significantly healthier than the originals. These flour-less chocolate cookies make sugar-reducing substitutions, too. And, just in time for the holidays, how do chocolate-dipped gingersnaps sound? They even incorporate a superfood, ginger, which reduces inflammation and may help tummy-aches.