If you think hula hooping is just for kids, think again. This simple piece of equipment can boost the fun factor in your fitness routine and give you an excellent workout at the same time.

When it comes to exercise, finding something you enjoy is key to making physical activity a regular part of your routine. When a workout is fun and you look forward to doing it, you’re more likely to stick with it and to be motivated to keep improving.

It’s also helpful if the activity can boost your health and fitness in a variety of ways — and that’s where hula hooping comes in.

This article will explore the benefits of a hula hooping workout, along with steps to help you get started.

What are the benefits of hula hooping?

1. Burns calories

Creating a calorie deficit is one of the primary goals when you’re trying to lose weight. Finding a physical activity you enjoy, that also burns calories, is one of the best ways to make that happen.

According to Mayo Clinic, hula hooping is comparable to other dance aerobic activities such as salsa, swing dancing, and belly dancing, when it comes to burning calories.

In fact, the Mayo Clinic reports that, on average, women can burn about 165 calories, and men 200 calories, during a 30-minute hooping session. 

2. Burns body fat and inches

When you burn calories through exercise and make the right changes to your diet, you increase the odds of reducing body fat.

And, according to the results of a small 2015 study, if you’re looking to lose inches around your waist and hips, hooping may be the right type of exercise for you — especially if you use a weighted hula hoop.

The study, which evaluated a weighted hula-hooping program carried out by 13 women over the course of 6 weeks, found that the women lost, on average, 3.4 centimeters (cm) around their waist and 1.4 cm around their hips.

3. Boosts cardiovascular fitness

Cardiovascular (also known as aerobic) exercise works your heart and lungs, and improves the flow of oxygen throughout your body. This, in turn, can lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes, improve cholesterol levels, improve brain function, and even reduce stress.

Once you settle into a steady rhythm with the hoop, your heart rate will increase, your lungs will work harder, and blood flow will improve. You’ll also spend more time in the aerobic zone burning calories and boosting your heart health

4. Challenges your core muscles

If you’ve ever used a hula hoop, then you know how much you need to move your hips to keep the hoop around your waist.

To keep the hula hoop moving, you need strong core muscles and good mobility in your hips. Learning how to use a hula hoop, and practicing it regularly, is an excellent way to target and train your abdominal muscles, as well as your obliques and hip muscles.

5. Improves your balance

Having good balance gives you better control of your body’s movements. It also helps improve your posture and allows you to do other exercises with the correct form.

According to the American Council on Exercise, any type of physical activity that requires you to maintain posture and stability over a base of support, like hula hooping, can help you maintain and improve your balance. 

6. Works your lower body muscles

It’s not just your core muscles that get a workout with hooping. The muscles in your lower body, including your quadriceps (front of your thigh), hamstrings (back of your thighs), glutes, and calves will all feel the burn too, especially if you use a weighted hoop.

In order to keep the front-to-back and side-to-side motion going, you need to recruit the large muscles in your legs and glutes to help power the movement.

7. Family-focused activity

It can be challenging to fit a workout in when you have a family. Between work, school, sports practices, and everything else that goes along with being a parent, exercise is often the first thing to get taken off the to-do list.

Hula hooping is one way to work out and spend time with your family at the same time.

Recruit your kids, spouse, partner, and anyone else who wants to benefit from this fun form of fitness to join you for a hooping workout. You can even make a game of it by seeing who can keep the hoop around their waist the longest. 

8. Inexpensive and portable

Hula hooping doesn’t involve a commute to the gym, overcrowded fitness classes, or waiting in line to use a cardio machine. Plus, it is inexpensive and you can do it practically anywhere, including your living room, front yard, or garage.

The cost of a standard hula hoop ranges from $8 to $15 and a weighted hula hoop will run you about $20 to $50, depending on the brand.

Shop for standard hula hoops or weighted hula hoops online.

How to get started

All you need to get started is a hoop and room to move. Here are a few tips to get you started on the right track. 

  • Find the right-sized hoop. The success of your workouts has a lot to do with the size of the hoop you choose. One tip for beginners is to use a larger hoop to start as you spin more slowly. If you can, try out the hoop before you buy it.
  • Choose the best weight. If you’re opting for a weighted hula hoop, a good rule of thumb for beginners is to start with a hoop that is around one to two pounds. As you get stronger, consider moving to a heavier hoop, but only if you can maintain proper form. 
  • Watch a video. There are several online tutorials that will walk you through how to hula hoop with proper form. If your local gym uses hoops, consider taking a class to learn the basics before working out on your own. 
  • Start with shorter workouts. With hula hooping, you are teaching your body how to move the right way with the hoop while working your cardiovascular system at the same time. Because of this, you may need to start with shorter workouts. Aim for two or three 10-minute sessions a day. You can spread them out or work them into a total-body workout. As you get better, you can add time to each workout. 

Focus on form and posture

To do hula hooping with the right form, be sure to follow these steps:

  • To start, make sure your feet are positioned correctly. You want your feet to be a little more than shoulder-width apart, with one foot slightly in front of the other.
  • Next, make sure your back is straight and your core muscles engaged. You don’t want to bend over at the waist and put strain on your lower back.
  • With the hoop around your waist and resting against your back, hold each side of the hoop.
  • With the hoop against your back, start spinning the hoop in a counter-clockwise direction. If you’re left-handed, you might find it easier to spin the hoop in a clockwise direction.
  • As the hoop starts to spin, move your waist in a circular motion to keep the hoop moving. Push your hips slightly forward as the hoop moves across your stomach, and push back when the hoop moves across your back.
  • Don’t worry about the hoop falling down at first. That’s normal. Just pick it up and keep trying until you get used to the motion

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Safety tips

While hula hooping is relatively safe, there are some tips to keep in mind. 

  • Maintain proper form. Keep your spine straight and your core engaged while you’re hooping. Avoid bending over at the waist. 
  • Wear tight-fitting clothing. Wear clothing that hugs your body, like yoga pants or cycling shorts and a fitted shirt. You want to avoid any fabric getting in the way of the hoop when you’re moving your hips. 
  • Proceed with caution if you have a back injury. If you have a back injury or chronic back pain, check with your doctor or physical therapist before trying hula hooping to make sure it’s safe for you.

The bottom line

Hula hooping is a safe and fun way to burn calories and body fat, improve your balance, strengthen your core muscles, and boost your cardiovascular fitness. And the best part? It’s inexpensive and easy to start, and you can do it anywhere.

As with any form of exercise, if you have any concerns about your health, talk with your doctor prior to starting a new routine.