Why does it seem like it was so much easier to stay in shape when we were kids? Could it be that we just had more energy? Or is it possible that the things we did to stay active were a lot more fun than all the machines we use at the gym?
The Hula-Hoop, a large ring that can be spun around the waist, gained intense popularity in the 1950s but is now re-emerging as a hot trend in weight loss. Most of us know that hooping is a great calorie burner. A study by the American Council on Exercise at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse confirmed this when it found that hooping was comparable to a work out you’d get from boot-camp, step aerobics and even cardio kickboxing classes. Based on this study, the exact calorie count they came up with was that hooping burns approximately 210 calories per 30-minute session—which falls within the AVE’s accepted guidelines for exercise that can contribute to weight management.
Twirling the hula hoop around in short bursts of energy provides a fun, low-impact workout that improves flexibility, balance, and muscle tone. The body bumps that make hula-hooping fun also force the mind and torso to work together in a set space, which improves flexibility and balance. This exercise works the deep layers of the abdominal muscles and the obliques. The wide leg stance and slightly bent knees required to keep the hula-hoop afloat also works your quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteals. Hooping can also act as a form of medication, which can have a calming and mood-boosting effect.
There are two different types of hula-hoops: weighted and unweighted. An un-weighted hula-hoop is similar to the hoops used on school playgrounds and are usually plastic and child-sized. If you’re trying to get fit, an un-weighted child’s hoop isn’t the way to go unless you are petite or you’re able to move your hips quickly to keep up the hoop spinning. Weighted hula-hoops, on the other hand, are available in weights between 1-5 pounds. Some are made of plastic and others are made of metal covered in plastic or foam to provide the weight. These adult-sized hoops measure between 37 and 45 inches and should vertically stand at a height between your navel and breastbone. While a light-weighted hoop requires more energy to keep spinning, a heavier hoop is easier to spin, allowing you to hoop for a longer duration (either way you burn calories so yay!)
Are you ready to test the hula-hoop craze? Here are a few helpful tips from Ivy Larson’s book Clean Cuisine: “Stand up straight, and keep your feet slightly apart. Depending on your skill level, it may be helpful to place one of your feet faintly in front of the other. Hold the hula hoop with both hands and place it around your waist and against the small of your back. Lightly twirl the hula-hoop in a counterclockwise motion with your hands and then let go. To keep the hoop going, move your body forward and back with the hoop’s rotation. If you keep your swinging steady, the hula-hoop should spin around just above your hips.”
Honestly, the thought of spinning a hula-hoop around my waist for 30 minutes to a 90’s top hits playlist sounds way more fun than hopping on the treadmill for the same amount of time. So whether you pick up a hula-hoop to improve your flexibility and balance or simply to manage your weight, hooping is definitely an engaging and fun way to a better you.