Behold, the humble hula-hoop. Is it a child’s play-thing or a hidden weapon of exercise and fun for adults? Believe it or not, you might be actually able to hula-hoop your way to a thinner, more toned waist. It’s not a bunch of hoopla either. Science has shown that there are a bunch of benefits to hula-hooping that go behind just getting your heart rate up.
So, if you’re ready to have a little bit more fun with working out and want to shimmy and swing your hips instead of running on the treadmill, then keep reading to learn why you should pick up that hula-hoop.
The Low Down on The Hula-Hoop
Did you know that the hula-hoop wasn’t first introduce to the masses in 1950s but much, much earlier? There is evidence that the Ancient Egyptians and Greeks used hula-hoops. Though the name obviously wasn’t hula-hoop, the rings were used for the same purpose: for fun and games.
Supposedly, children in those ancient times would take grape vines and twist them together so the rings could roll along the ground. Kind of like hula-hoop trick, “Walking the Dog.” At the same time, sportsmen from Greece would use the hoops in games meant to increase their endurance and agility.
Then, somewhere between those long gone civilizations and the 1950s, someone decided to put that hoop on their hips and have some fun. Thus, the hula-hoop craze as we know it today was born.
How can hula-hooping get you fit? Check out the following surprising benefits:
In a 2010 study by the American Council of Exercise (ACE), the amount of calories hula-hooping burns per minute was calculated. It turns out you can burn around 7 calories per minute, or 210 calories in 30 minutes when hula-hooping. Of course, the amount of calories you burn during any exercise depends on your age, height, weight, and fitness level, so those numbers can differ. But either way you look at it, that is pretty impressive.
So what will it be? The boring treadmill or exhilarating hooping?
Strengthen and Tighten Your Core
Although you can never spot reduce, you can give yourself a tummy-tightening workout with a hula-hoop that will make you say nah to those crunches you had planned. Swinging your hips around is continuously working the muscles of your core, including the inner muscles that create the corset effect on your waistline. If you are using a weighted hula-hoop, you can enhance the strengthening effect and do more targeted movements that will activate certain muscles.
Massage Your Torso
The rhythmic movements of the hula-hoop gyrating around your waist and hips is going to eventually feel like a massage. This is because the weight of the hoop is gently pressing into the muscles, increasing the blood flow and helping oxygen get to the muscles. This can help you recover from more grueling workouts even faster—and you’re having fun while doing it.
While hula-hoops aren’t going to replace a foam roller any time soon, you can definitely for a light massage whenever you want.
The main benefit of hula-hooping is that you are going to feel like a kid again. All that wiggling and shimmying and shaking is bound to get you sweaty and smiling. Whenever your heart rate increases, your body will release endorphins. You might even feel something like a runner’s high once you finish working out with a hula-hoop—and there’s nothing wrong with a mood-boosting rush of endorphins!
Beginner Tips To Hula-Hooping
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Having trouble getting going? Don’t know how to start? There’s nothing to worry about. Hula-hooping is easy and fun. Here are some tips to help you get started:
Can’t Keep The Hoop Up or Maintain Momentum?
You might have a hula-hoop that is either too light or too small for you. A heavier hoop is going to be easier to handle, because more weight means more momentum. The same goes for a small hoop. You need to be able to generate enough centripetal forces as you swing your hips around, so choose a hoop that is big enough for you, not your kid’s.
Get In The Right Position
Yes, you do need to move and stand a certain way to hula-hoop correctly. First, you want to stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. One foot should be slightly forward, since that helps you work through the hips.
Next, you want to keep your back straight. Remember, there’s a reason why it’s called “hula-hooping.” Think like a hula dancer!
Make It Level
Always begin the spin by keeping the hoop as level as possible. Hold it with both hands at first. If one side is lower than the other, you won’t be able to get enough momentum to keep the hoop under control.
Other Exercises To Do With a Hula-Hoop
Here are some additional ways to use a hula-hoop and add some variety to your practice:
To do this move, you are going to need to lie down on the ground or on an exercise mat. Your knees are bent and your feet are planted. Position the hula-hoop under you so that the bottom of the ring is right under your mid-back. The top of the hoop will be above your head. Grasp both sides of the ring. Contract your core, lift your shoulder blades by a few inches. Hold then lower down.
Hold the hula-hoop with both hands parallel to the ground in front of you. Get into a stance with your knees bent. Keep the hoop near as you rotate your torso towards the right and transfer the hoop to your right hand and then back behind your body. Next, you rotate to the left and pass the hoop to the left hand, performing the same motion. Make sure your feet stay grounded and that the only thing moving is your rotating torso.
Arms & Other Places
You might have seen those hula-hoop wizards with several hoops going at once on their arms, around their neck, and hips. While you don’t have to aim to get to that level, you can definitely use your hula hoop on your neck and arms and legs to get that same toning effect everywhere. Get creative.
Add More Weight
You can strap on wrist and ankle weights, hold onto dumbbells, or start incorporated other movements like lunges and squats and so on once you start getting good at hooping. If you want to learn more, you can sign up for a class or get a DVD.
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Hula-Hooping To Fitness? You Bet!
While the hula-hoop is not going to replace HIIT or even lifting weights, it can be a fun aerobic exercise and core strengthener to add into your workouts, especially if you are bored with crunches and walking on the cardio machines. The best thing about hula-hooping is that it is fun and the equipment costs next to nothing! So what are you waiting for? Give hooping a try!
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