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Hula hoops have been popular toys for more than 60 years. But, just because they were originally designed for children, doesn’t mean they can’t be used as a fun exercise tool for adults.

If you’ve ever given one of these hoops a whirl, you probably already know that trying to keep it around your hips can be a challenging workout.

Weighted hula hoops are a variation of the original plastic version. As the name suggests, they’re usually heavier. They’re also usually bigger and made of a soft material.

Here’s a look at the potential benefits of a weighted hula hoop workout and how you can get started even if you’ve never used one before.

Although there’s limited research focused specifically on weighted hula hoops, there’s still solid evidence to support the following seven benefits.

1. Improves your aerobic health

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise each week.

Hula hooping is a fun, invigorating way to fit more aerobic exercise into your routine. It has the potential to provide similar benefits to salsa dancing or belly dancing.

Some of the benefits of regular aerobic activity include:

2. Burns calories

According to the Mayo Clinic, women can burn about 165 calories during 30 minutes of hula hooping and men can burn about 200 calories.

This is comparable to other aerobic activities like ballroom dancing, mowing the lawn with a push mower, or walking about 4.5 miles per hour.

3. Reduces fat around your waist and hips

A small 2015 study evaluated the potential benefits of a 6-week weighted hula hooping program for women.

At the end of the 6 weeks, the researchers found that the 13 women in the study had lost inches around their waist and hips.

Overall, the women in the study lost an average of 3.4 centimeters (1.3 inches) from their waistline and 1.4 centimeters (0.6 inches) from their hips.

4. Reduces abdominal fat

A 2019 study compared the potential benefits of a weighted hula hooping program with a walking program for individuals with overweight. The 53 subjects in the study either performed an average of 12.8 minutes of hula hooping per day or walked 9,986 steps per day.

The researchers found that the subjects in the hula hooping group lost a significant amount of abdominal fat and also trimmed inches from their waist, compared with the walking group.

5. Increases core muscle mass

Hula hooping requires you to activate the muscles in your core to keep the hoop around your hips. Because of the work your core muscles need to do with this activity, it may help strengthen the muscles around your midsection.

In the same 2019 study mentioned above, the researchers noted that participants in the hula hooping group had a significant increase in the muscle mass in their trunk, compared with the walking group.

6. Decreases LDL (bad) cholesterol

LDL cholesterol is often referred to as “bad” cholesterol. If it gets too high, it increases your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Aerobic exercise, such as hula hooping, has the potential to improve your cholesterol levels.

The previously mentioned 2019 study also found that participants in the hula hooping group had a significant drop in their LDL cholesterol levels at the end of the 6-week hula hooping versus the walking program.

7. Increases your motivation to exercise again

A 2016 pilot study looked at the intentions of women ages 18 to 45 for future exercise after completing 30 minutes of hula hooping or walking.

At the end of the study, the researchers found that the women in the hula hooping group reported stronger intentions for future exercise.

Weighted hula hoops come in a variety of sizes and weights. Hula hoop sizes vary by brand, but in general, adult sizes range between 37 to 41 inches.

Hula hooping experts suggest starting with a hoop that reaches somewhere between your waist and mid-chest when the hoop is standing sideways on the ground.

Hoop weights range from roughly 1 to 5 pounds. The stronger and more experienced you are, the heavier weight you can handle.

It’s important to choose a weight that you can stick with for the duration of your workout. It’s also important to use a weight that doesn’t cause your technique and form to break down, which could increase your risk of an injury.

If you’re a beginner, you may want to start off with a hoop that’s around 1 to 2 pounds.

Shop for weighted hula hoops online.

Before you start hula hooping, make sure you’re using a hoop that’s an appropriate size and weight. Wear form-fitting clothing, as loose clothing can get caught up and tangled in the hoop.

When you first start, you may spend more time with the hoop on the floor than around your waist. It can take some practice to get the timing right, but the longer you stick with it, the better you’ll get. The key is to be patient and to not give up.

Here’s how you can use a weighted hula hoop:

  1. Start by holding the hoop in one hand and stand with your feet staggered, one foot about 6 to 8 inches in front of the other. If you spin the hoop clockwise, start with your left foot forward. If you spin counter-clockwise, start with your right foot forward.
  2. If you’re just starting out, you may want to practice the hula motion without the hoop at first. Make a small forward and backward movement with your hips while rocking your weight slightly from your heels to your toes and back to your heels again. Keep doing this until you get comfortable with the motion.
  3. Next, place the hoop around your waist with the back of the hoop on the small of your back, just above your hips. The front of the hoop should point down slightly.
  4. Then, spin the hoop and try to catch it with your front hip as you start rocking forward and back. You can change the speed of the hoop by changing the speed that you rock your hips.

Using a weighted hula hoop is relatively safe as long as you’re using a weight that’s appropriate for your strength and fitness level.

When in doubt, it’s better to use a hoop that’s too light than too heavy. If you feel any pain during your workout, stop immediately.

If you’re new to exercising, or have an injury or chronic health condition, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor before starting a hula hoop workout. It’s especially important to check with your doctor if you have back or hip issues.

Weighted hula hoops are a heavier, sturdier variation of the popular children’s toy. Hula hooping has the potential to be a fun, challenging, and invigorating way to improve your aerobic health, burn calories, lose fat, and build your core strength.

Although there’s a learning curve, hula hopping is an affordable way to stay active, and it may boost your motivation to exercise more often. It’s safe for most people, but it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor first if you have back or hip issues or other health concerns.