If hula hooping reminds you of childhood, vaudeville, or Elvis movies, you’re missing the latest wave in ab training and a truly fun exercise routine. Not only does hula hooping work the entire core, including the tough-to-tone lower abs, it’s also a light source of aerobic exercise, burning 100-150 calories for every ten minutes you keep the hoop spinning. Once you’ve reached the intermediate level, you can add smaller hoops to the arms, burning more calories and working out the upper body as well as the core.
I’ve been hula hooping five times a week for about three years. Over that period, I’ve shed at least ten inches from my waist. For the sake of full disclosure, my other aerobic activity is walking two to three miles, three times a week. Using a diet and exercise routine involving hula hooping, I was able to lose sixty pounds in less than a year, and I’ve kept it off for two.
1. Make sure you have the right size hula hoop!
Stand with your hoop in front of you. The general rule of thumb is that a hoop should stand somewhere between your navel and nipple height… The bigger you are, the bigger the hoop should be.
2. Put one foot in front of the other, and shift your weight.
Hold the hoop against your back. You can start it a little above your waist. Then, push the hoop around your waist, and shift your weight back and forth on your feet to keep the hoop moving.
I would also recommend keeping your feet straight and about a foot and a half apart.
On weighted hoops: Plenty of fitness stores now sell weighted hula hoops, larger and heavier than the version you may remember from the playground. This article from the Mayo Clinic describes the basic difference between working out with a regular hoop or one of the weighted varieties:
The smaller and lighter the hoop, the more energy it takes to keep the hoop going. But the bigger and heavier the hoop, the easier it is to keep going, which means you may be able to do it for a longer period of time.
For the sake of back health, it’s often recommended to spin the hoop an equal amount of time in both directions. Personally, I go ten minutes right, ten minutes left. The average session should last between ten and thirty minutes. As you would for any fitness regimen, check with your doctor before you begin.