Hula Hooping for Fitness Is a Thing (and Why You Should Try It)

Hula Hooping for Fitness Is a Thing (and Why You Should Try It)
Photo: Yellowj, Shutterstock

You may know how to hula hoop like a pro, but did you know that you can put those skills to work as part of the latest social media fitness craze? This week, pop-sensation Lizzo went viral on Tik Tok for duet-reacting to a video of one of her fans dancing to her single “About Damn Time” while using with a hula hoop. It was is but one example of a larger trend on the social media platform, highlighting a resurgence of the 1950s toy — which is increasingly being used for fitness.

A subreddit for hula hooping boasts 16,000 members, and hula hooping exercise videos on YouTube routinely rack up hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of views. According to a study carried out by the American Council on Exercise, hula hooping burns an average of 210 calories during a 30-minute workout, comparable to the exertion of boot camp-style classes, step aerobics and cardio kickboxing. Perhaps that’s why it’s caught the attention of celebrities from Catherine Zeta-Jones to Jennifer Hudson (or maybe their Pelotons are just broken).

Hula hooping even has the endorsement of health experts. Samantha Noderer of the Massachusetts Public Health Blog writes, “hooping is a great way to tone up thighs, abs, glutes and arms without ever feeling like you’re working out.” The Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Centre division of the Department of Health and Human Services recommends hula hooping as a physical activity for children, and Dr. Edward R. Laskowski notes, “You can use a weighted hula hoop as part of an overall fitness program to add variety to your workouts or simply as a fun way to get more active.”

How to get started hula hooping for fitness

Here are a few routines from YouTube to help you get started incorporating hooping into your cardio workouts. Note that many routines use a weighted hula hoop, which is different from the kind most commonly sold in a toy store.

  • Hula Hoop Warm-Up/Cool Down: Add some hooping to the beginning and ending of your existing workout with this warmup routine, which uses the hoop to assist in stretching but doesn’t involve active hooping.
  • PINC Active Fitness Hula Hoop workout by Rachael Attard: This 15-minute beginner’s routine includes some hoop-assisted stretches and sustained hooping while in a variety of stances stressing different muscle groups.
  • Hula Hoop Dance Workout: A 30-minute full-body workout session, intended for intermediate to advanced hula-hoopers.

Grab your exercise clothes and hit play on one of the many Spotify hula hooping playlists, and you’re all set to go.

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