Weighted hula hooping is a fun, science-backed way to lose weight, tone your abs, and torch calories
hula hoopingcan help you lose weight when combined with a healthy diet and strength training.
- According to research, a 30-minute hula hooping workout will burn up to 210 calories.
- Hula hooping can also help with your posture, balance, and cardiovascular
You might remember hula hooping as a fun activity you did when you were a kid. But hula hooping isn't only for children; it can also double as a low-impact workout that burns calories and promotes
"Hula hooping can contribute to weight loss, as it is a great cardiovascular workout," says Jennifer Jens, an ACSM-certified fitness trainer and owner of Beachlife Fitness Studios & Programs.
Additionally, a weighted hula hoop can add more resistance, intensifying your workout.
If you're looking for a fun change to your cardio routine, trying an exercise like hula hooping may actually keep you on track with your workout goals.
"Hula hooping is really enjoyable, and when your workout is something you like to do, you are far more likely to stick to your routine," says Jens.
Here's how you can get started with hula hooping, from buying the right hoop to mastering the technique.
Do weighted hula hoops work?
Research indicates that regular hula hooping could be a boon to your health.
A small 2019 study of overweight individuals compared six weeks of using a weighted hula hoop with six weeks of walking. The participants who hula hooped lost belly fat and increased their abdominal muscles more than those who only walked. The researchers also noted that hula hooping lowered participants' LDL cholesterol (aka "bad" cholesterol).
Hula hooping is a form of cardio exercise, also known as aerobic exercise, that gets your heart pumping.
"You need to get at least 150 minutes of moderate cardiovascular exercise a week to see benefits. Benefits of cardio include increased endurance, more energy, weight loss, enhanced mood, and improved overall health," says Jens.
In addition to offering a fun form of cardio, hula hooping can tone your core and postural muscles (i.e. the muscles that keep you upright and help your posture). These include your abs, obliques, and pelvic muscles. Balancing the hoop around your waist and constantly circulating your torso back and forth engages your core and helps build strength in these muscles.
Hula hooping can also help increase your balance, says Jens. Balance training is often overlooked; however, it is critical to stability and can help prevent fall-related injuries, especially as you get older.
Using a weighted hula hoop for weight loss
Hula hooping can help you lose weight if you combine it with a healthy eating strategy that works for you, as well as regular strength training, says Jens.
You can lose around 1 pound per week if you are able to create a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day, through a combination of diet and exercise.
The calories you burn while hula hooping can help contribute to this deficit.
In fact, a small 2011 study found that a 30-minute hula hoop workout can help you burn up to 210 calories, making it comparable to cardio kickboxing, step aerobics, or a boot camp workout, in terms of heart rate and calorie burn.
How to start hula hooping
Here's how to find the right hula hoop to set you up for success:
Find the right size
Hula hoops come in different sizes, so it's important to get one that is appropriate for you. When placed on the floor, the hoop should ideally stand as tall as the bottom of your rib cage, according to the Mayo Clinic.
"It would be ideal to purchase it in person and try the hoop for size and weight; however, if you're purchasing it online, use a size chart to find the hoop to meet your needs," says Jens.
Pick the best weight for you
Hula hoops also come in different weights, ranging from one to five pounds. Weighted hoops are larger in size and typically have padding around them, to prevent bruising. They provide more muscle toning than non-weighted hoops.
"To get started, purchase a non-weighted or light-weighted hoop of no more than two pounds," says Jens.
Smaller, lighter hoops spin faster and require more energy; whereas bigger, heavier hoops require less energy to keep going.
Important: Heavily weighted hoops are not recommended for beginners or people with back problems.
Once you have your hoop, you're ready to get started. As a safety precaution, avoid wearing loose clothing while hula hooping, since it can get caught in the hoop.
"When beginning hula hooping, as with any new exercise routine, start off slow. You can start with small increments of five to 10 minutes a couple times per day and build up from there," says Jens.
Learn proper hula hooping technique and form
Here's a quick step-by-step guide to perfecting your technique. Be sure to maintain good posture and form throughout, Jens says.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, with one foot a little bit ahead of the other. Keep your back straight and your core engaged. Avoid bending over while you're hula hooping.
- Put the hula hoop around your waist and hold either side, letting it rest against your back.
- Start rocking back and forth to get a little momentum going, then spin the hoop toward whichever side is preferable. Right-handed people may prefer counterclockwise, whereas left-handed people may prefer a clockwise rhythm.
- Once the hoop starts spinning, start rocking your hips back and forth to keep it going. Move your hips forward as the hoop passes your stomach and move them backward as it crosses your back.
- You may have a few false starts, but that's perfectly alright. Try to eventually get to a steady rhythm and maintain it without stopping or dropping the hoop. If the hoop starts to slip, you can rock your hips a little faster to raise it.
For more instruction, check out this hula hooping tutorial courtesy of Deanne Love.
Hula hooping can be a fun way to improve balance, strength, and aerobic fitness. It can also help you burn calories, contribute to weight loss, and tone your abs, especially if you pair it with a healthy diet and regular strength training.
"Hula hooping can be used as a primary cardio routine or in addition to other activities like walking, running, biking, etc.," says Jens. She says you can expect to start seeing results in two to three weeks, if you do it regularly and get 150 minutes of cardio per week.
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