Exercise doesn't always mean plodding along on a treadmill waiting for your 30 minutes to be up. A hula hoop workout burns calories and can help you slim your waist while having fun at the same time. Just do it at the right intensity for the right amount of time and combine it with a healthy diet.
A hula hoop workout burns calories, which helps you lose overall body fat. As part of a full exercise routine, this could lead to a slimmer waist.
Benefits of Hula Hoop Exercise
Believe it or not, researchers have studied hula hoop benefits and whether hula hoop exercise can slim your waist. The results of two small studies say it might.
The first study, results of which were published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research in May 2015, involved 13 women between the ages of 30 and 60. Using a weighted hula hoop, the women engaged in one group class per week and four additional sessions on their own during a six-week period. They were instructed to keep all other aspects of their daily routine the same.
Measurements, including waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio and body fat, were taken before and after the trial. Researchers found that at the end of the trial, participants had a significant decrease in waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio. However, there was no change in total body weight, and testing showed an increase in body fat in the limbs. This suggests that weighted hula hoop exercise disperses fat to other areas of the body rather than decreasing total body fat mass.
In the second study, published in Obesity Facts in September 2019, 55 overweight subjects ages 18 to 70 were randomized to two groups. One group walked as part of their exercise routine for six weeks and the other group hula hooped using a weighted hoop for the same period of time — then the groups switched activities. The activities were matched for energy expenditure.
Compared to measurements taken before the study, researchers found that abdominal fat and waist circumference had decreased in the hula hooping group but not in the walking group. Muscle mass had also increased in the abdominal area in the hula group compared to the walking group.
Picking the Best Exercise
Those results sound pretty promising, but they are two very small studies that were subject to many variables. In the first study, the fat wasn't lost — it just went elsewhere. Most experts, including the American Council on Exercise, hold that the idea of spot reduction is a myth. To get a slimmer waist, you need to lose total body fat, some of which will come from your midsection.
The key point to fat loss is to burn calories — more than your body needs each day. This causes it to have to tap into your fat stores for the energy it needs. Over time, if you maintain the right calorie balance, you'll whittle away your stored fat for a slimmer physique.
Combined with a nutritious reduced-calorie diet, any type of exercise helps. Raising your heart rate above a certain level increases your body's energy needs and burns calories, whether you're jogging on a treadmill, climbing Mount Everest or hula hooping.
The amount of calories you'll burn in a hula hoop workout depends on several factors, including weight, age, gender, duration and intensity. The longer and harder you "hoop," the more calories you'll burn.
How Much Should You Hoop?
It's best if you can hula hoop for at least 10 minutes at a time, says the Mayo Clinic, and at a high enough intensity to increase your heart rate and make you break a sweat.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends all adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity cardiovascular exercise each week. However, for even more benefits for both your abdominal fat and your overall health, you should aim for 300 minutes of moderate intensity or 150 minutes of vigorous intensity cardio exercise each week.
Hula hooping for that amount of time will likely get you impressive results if your diet is also on track. However, hula hooping that much each week is probably not sustainable. If you like hula hooping, do it as often as you want, and combine it with other fun forms of exercise such as dancing, step aerobics or hiking with a friend.
- The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: "A Six-Week Trial of Hula Hooping Using a Weighted Hoop"
- Obesity Facts: "Effects of Weighted Hula-Hooping Compared to Walking on Abdominal Fat, Trunk Muscularity, and Metabolic Parameters in Overweight Subjects: A Randomized Controlled Study"
- American Council on Exercise: "Myths and Misconceptions: Spot Reduction and Feeling the Burn"
- Mayo Clinic: "Do Weighted Hula Hoops Provide a Good Workout, or Are They Just a Gimmick?"
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: "Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans: 2nd Edition"