If you think hula hoops are relegated to your childhood, think again. Hula hooping is a fantastic low-impact workout that gets your heart rate up while strengthening your core and much more. If you are looking for a way to mix up your activity and maybe get a little nostalgic, hula hooping is worth a shot. Especially since you can find adult-sized and weighted hoops specifically designed to ensure a challenging workout. To learn the best benefits of hula hooping, we spoke to Sandra Gail Frayna, sports physical therapist at Hudson-Premier PT, and Nick Topel, ISSA-certified personal trainer at Model Trainers.
Read on to learn why fitness experts recommend hula hooping as a way to stay fit.
“Studies show that hula hooping burns anywhere between 3 and 7 calories per minute, depending on your body type and the hoop you are using. The amount of calories hula hooping can burn is comparable to low-impact exercises like walking,” says Frayna.
In fact, hula hooping is on par with boot camp or cardio kickboxing in terms of how it can get your heart pumping. Because it burns about 210 calories in 30 minutes, hula hooping is an excellent way to benefit weight management.
Builds Core Strength
If you’ve ever used a hula hoop, you know that if you don’t keep hula-ing, you won’t have much success.
“Hula hooping requires strong movement around the hips and waist to keep it from falling. You can build strong abdominal muscles and obliques from consistent hula hooping,” explains Frayna. For even more of a challenge to your core and an increased calorie burn, Frayna recommends a weighted hoop.
Works Your Lower Body
Your core is not the only muscle group that will benefit from a hula session.
“The front-to-back and side-to-side motions activate muscles in your legs and glutes to continue the movement. If you use a weighted hoop, it will help strengthen these muscles even more,” says Frayna.
Try slowly squatting up and down while swinging your hips. The added challenge will provide some fun and strengthen the muscles of your hips, glutes, and legs.
If you struggle to maintain good posture, especially if you sit all day, hula hooping can help. Since your whole body needs to be turned on and working as a unit to keep the hoop moving, the small underworked muscles of your upper back, core, glutes, and legs will fire up, leading to better posture.
“When hula hooping, your body form is stabilized and engaged throughout the workout. Training your body in this way can improve your posture, your daily functioning, and help your form with other exercises,” explains Frayna.
Burns Body Fat
“The continuous coordination and low-impact nature of hula hooping produce the perfect environment for a slow burn after just a few minutes. This is great for melting some of that stubborn belly fat (especially if you’re using a weighted hoop)!” says Topel.
In fact, research shows that using a weighted hula hoop can decrease abdominal fat percentage while simultaneously building core muscles for a toned, strong midsection. What more motivation do you need?
Boosts Your Cardiovascular System
Getting enough cardio is vital for a healthy lifestyle. Hula hooping can help you get in your recommended 150 weekly minutes of moderate (or 75 minutes of vigorous) activity in a fun and challenging way.
“Not only does cardio aid in reducing body fat, but it helps to boost heart and lung health while getting oxygen flowing through your body too,” says Topel.
All of these factors contribute to improving your overall health and body function. “Aerobic exercises like hula hooping can improve cholesterol levels, which lessen the risk of cardiovascular disease as well,” Topel adds.
Works for a Warm-Up
If you’re ever tempted to skip a warm-up, maybe what you need is a more exciting way to get your muscles ready for action.
“If you want to shake up your preworkout warm-up, hula hooping is a great way to get the heart rate up and get a sweat going before jumping into something with a higher intensity. Try swapping that jump rope or treadmill for a hula hoop next time you warm up,” suggests Topel.
It’s essential to enjoy the kind of exercise you’re doing so that your results are sustainable in the long term. Using your workout sessions as a way to blow off steam and de-stress serves as double-duty self-care.
“Hula hooping can be a fun way to release endorphins—have you ever seen someone hula hooping without a smile on their face? This exercise also requires your full attention to keep things in rhythm, so it can get your mind off daily stressors and allow you to mentally relax for a few minutes,” explains Topel.
Lahelma M, Sädevirta S, Lallukka-Brück S, et al. Effects of weighted hula-hooping compared to walking on abdominal fat, trunk muscularity, and metabolic parameters in overweight subjects: a randomized controlled study. Obes Facts. 2019;12(4):385-396.