How weighted hula hooping can help you lose weight, tone your abs, and torch calories

Sanjana Gupta,Joey Thurman
·7 min read
weighted hulahoop
Hula hooping can be a fun and effective cardiovascular exercise, burning about 210 calories every half hour. SelectStock
  • Weighted hula hooping is great exercise to help you shrink love handles, tone abs, and lose weight.

  • According to research, a 30-minute hula hooping workout will burn up to 210 calories.

  • Additionally, hula hooping can help with your posture, balance, and cardiovascular health.

  • Visit Insider's Health Reference library for more advice.

You might remember hula hooping as a fun activity you did when you were a kid. However, hula hooping isn't necessarily only for children; it can also double up as a low-impact workout that can help you burn calories and lose weight.

"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.

What the research says: According to a 2015 study, you are more likely to adhere to a weight loss routine if it's fun, and also more likely to lose weight; the study found that people who undertook rigorous, less fun workouts were more likely to overestimate how many calories they had burned and subsequently reward themselves with dessert and indulgent snacks, which can make it harder to lose weight.

If you're interested in hula hooping, getting started shouldn't be too hard, as it is affordable, easy to do at home, and portable, according to Jens. Here are some of the benefits of hula hooping and how you can get started.

Benefits of Using a Weighted Hula Hoop

  • Burns calories: According to a small 2011 study conducted by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) with 16 participants, a 30-minute hula hoop workout can help you burn up to 210 calories. The ACE says a vigorous hula hooping session is comparable to cardio kickboxing, step aerobics, or a boot camp workout, in terms of heart rate and calorie burn.

  • Enables weight loss: Hula hooping can help you lose weight, if you combine it with a healthy eating strategy that works for you and 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.

  • Burns calories: According to a small 2011 study conducted by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) with 16 participants, a 30-minute hula hoop workout can help you burn up to 210 calories. The ACE says a vigorous hula hooping session is comparable to cardio kickboxing, step aerobics, or a boot camp workout, in terms of heart rate and calorie burn.

  • Builds aerobic fitness: 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.

  • Tones your abs and "love handles": According to Jens, 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.

  • Improves balance: 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.

  • Makes for a fun workout: "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.

How to start hula hooping

Here's how you can get started with hula hooping, from buying the right hoop to mastering the technique.

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.

However, weighted hoops are not recommended for beginners or people with back problems. "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.

Start Slow

Once you have your hoop, you're ready to get started. "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.

Hula hooping technique and form

  • It's important to maintain good posture and form throughout, according to Jens.

  • 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.

  • As a safety precaution, avoid wearing loose clothing while hula hooping, since it can get caught in the hoop.

  • Here's a helpful hula hooping tutorial courtesy of Deanne Love.

Insider's takeaway

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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