You’ve most likely stumbled upon a TikTok video about #hulahoop and wondered whether this nostalgic piece of equipment that has been around since the 1950s is of any health benefit. Well, we can assure you it’s not just a trend!
Lately, many fitness trainers and instructors have been touting the core-strengthening and cardio benefits of weighted hula hooping, the more advanced version of regular hula hooping.
But what can whirling a hula hoop around your waist really do to your physical and mental health? That’s what we’re going to discuss in this article, along with some information you need to know about this aerobic exercise before you get on with it.
8 Benefits of Hula Hooping
1. Weight Reduction
Weighted hula hooping is one of the most effective ways to burn calories, especially for women who tend to have a harder time shedding weight than men.
The extra mass of weighted hula hoops doesn’t only make it easier to maneuver in a twirling movement but also makes its calorie expenditure higher. That’s because your body exerts more energy to balance and move the weighted hula hoop, which translates into more calories burned.
According to a study performed by the University of Wisconsin and funded by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), twirling a weighted hoop around your hips, arms, or legs can burn around 6-7 calories per minute. That means 30 minutes of hula hooping can burn an average of 200 calories.
To burn one pound of fat, you must burn 3,500 calories more than you consume, which means you can shed one pound of fat by exercising with the hula hoop for less than 9 hours. In other words, you can shed one pound a week using a weighted hula hoop.
The study was done on a group of 16 women between the ages of 16 and 59 and of different physical abilities and fitness levels to ensure the accuracy of the results. As per the study, the number of calories burned by hula hooping is very significant since women tend to have difficulty shedding the same calorie number by exercising on other cardio machines.
2. Improved Aerobic Capacity
As an aerobic activity, which speeds up your heart rate and breathing, hula hooping doesn’t only burn calories but also has a significant positive effect on your cardiovascular system.
Just like brisk walking, running, and stair climbing, exercising with weighted hula hoops helps lower blood pressure, reduce blood sugar levels, and relax blood vessel walls. All of this reflects on your overall health. In addition, after a couple of weeks of using a weighted hula hoop, you’ll notice an evident improvement in your energy and fitness level.
3. Increased Muscle Strength and Tone
Hula hooping isn’t just an aerobic workout that allows you to lose weight. You must have noticed how professional hula hoopers and those who have been hula hooping for years have the perfect body shape and tone.
It’s to no surprise, really, since you can use the hula hoop to work different muscle groups, including your back, thighs, glutes, arms, and core muscles, through various workouts.
With the hoop going around your midsection, you activate your waist and hips. If you pump it around your arms, you work your upper body, including your arms, shoulders, and chest. Also, squatting while pumping the hula hoop helps engage your quads, hamstrings, and glutes. So you can use this circular piece of equipment for a full-body workout.
What’s more, a weighted hula hoop provides more resistance. That’s why you find yourself twirling slower with a weighted hoop than with a regular one. This added resistance helps increase your core strength and overall muscle mass. After a while of hula hooping, you’ll find that carrying overweight subjects isn’t as hard as it used to be.
4. More Flexibility
Hula hooping is a form of exercise that’s in many ways similar to yoga, which increases your spine’s strength and flexibility. Using a weighted hula hoop requires a wide range of motion to keep the hoop around your waist.
With regular practice, this rhythmic rocking movement relieves the tension in your lower back muscles and realigns your backbone. Consequently, more blood flows to your spine, and the flexibility of the muscles there increases. That won’t only allow you to crouch and bend easier but will also protect you from future back injuries.
5. Reduced Belly Fat
In 2019, a study was performed by the European Journal of Obesity to compare the effect of weighted hula hooping to walking on abdominal fat.
It was found that, as a complete core workout, hooping can reduce problematic abdominal fat and whittle down the waist at a faster rate than walking. Not only that, but also it increased the muscle mass in the midsections of the group who exercised with weighted hula hoops.
Another clinical trial by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research was performed on a total of 18 women for 6 weeks. These women practiced with weighted hula hoops daily, and their waist and hip circumference measurements were taken before and after the length of the trial.
It was found that “on average, participants experienced a significant decrease in the waist and hip circumferences by 3.4 cm and waist-to-hip ratio from 89.3 cm down to 87.3 cm.”
6. Easier on the Joints
In addition to being an excellent workout for strength training and flexing your muscles, weighted hula hooping poses minimal risk to people with joint problems such as arthritis.
In fact, if you can’t perform weight-bearing workouts like running, your doctor might recommend exercising with the hula hoop as a cardio alternative. Because of how low impact it is, it helps loosen stiff muscles and expand the body’s range of motion without applying much pressure on the joints.
7. Improved Cholesterol Level
Using weighted hula hoops is proven to lessen the risk of cardiovascular disease and improve cholesterol levels. After a few months of exercising with a weighted hula hoop, your LDL cholesterol level will decrease by up to 15%, and your HDL level will increase by up to 20%.
8. Boosted Mood and Energy
Finally, as with any other cardio workout, playing with weighted hula hoops releases a good amount of endorphins in your system, which relieves stress and improves your mood drastically. It’s even more fun than other exercises because despite being based on a rhythmic movement like running and cycling, it’s more like dancing.
As per doctor Cedric X. Bryant, the ACE’s Chief Science Officer, “Not only can hooping workouts result in improved cardiovascular health, muscle conditioning, flexibility, and balance, but hoopers may also enjoy a fun, relaxing and potentially meditative effect due to the activity’s rhythmic nature.”
Also, a weighted hula hoop rarely becomes boring because of the multitude of ways you can exercise with it, which helps you vary your routine and keep yourself entertained at the same time. Not to mention, the more you become better at it, the more enjoyable it gets because you’ll be able to experiment with a whole new range of movements.
Weighted vs. Regular Hula Hoops
As the name suggests, weighted hula hoops are regular hoops with added weights. While a traditional hoop can weigh less than one pound, a weighted hula hoop can weigh up to 5 pounds and sometimes even more.
Both types have their pros and cons, and it’s totally up to the user to choose which one to use. Lighter hoops take the edge when it comes to calorie burn. Because a light hoop is easy to fall off your midsection, it takes more energy to keep it twirling, which means more calories burned.
On the other hand, a weighted hula hoop is easier to keep going but applies more resistance to your muscles, which helps them grow in size and strength.
How Often Should You Use Weighted Hula Hoops to See Results?
That mainly depends on your fitness level and whether you’ve used a weighted hula hoop before or are unfamiliar with the tool. In general, it’s recommended to exercise with a hoop 3-4 times a week for 30 minutes.
Of course, that could be difficult initially, so you can start with only 5-10 minutes until your waistline muscles become strong enough to keep whirling for a longer period.
However, don’t go overboard with your expectations. The hula hoop won’t magically drop several inches off your midsection in a week or two, even if some TikTokers swear on their mothers’ graves that it will.
Only with proper diet and regular practice will you see any difference in your tummy. And it’ll mostly take at least a month to see noticeable results.
Does the Hula Hoop Have Any Negative Effects?
As a low-impact workout, hula hooping is generally safe as long as you don’t go overboard with it and use weighted hoops beyond what you can handle.
Using a weighted hula hoop correctly is all about good form. If you mess up your posture while doing the exercise, you may feel pain in your back or midsection, at which point you should stop immediately. Also, warming up and cooling down properly before and after the workout can help you avoid its downsides.
Hula Hoop Your Way to Good Health… And Fun!
Ready to join in the trend? We hope you’ve found some motivation after reading this blog post. As you can see, there are countless benefits to this nostalgic workout that you don’t want to miss out on.
Although the weighted hula hoop itself might look intimidating at first, it’s an enjoyable way to pass your training time while shedding some pounds and building core muscles.
Finally, remember that you don’t need to have twig-like hips from the start or the flexibility to make ninja off-body moves to use a hula hoop. These are no more than just myths. To start weighted hula hooping, all you need is some motivation and a strong will to have some fun dancing around.
Emma James, 29 years old professional fitness trainer with Bachelor’s degree in Physical Fitness Technician from Boston University.