A few weeks ago I flew home to Buffalo to spend time with my family. While there I found the hula-hoop used at my wedding as a chandelier. I picked it up and after a few false starts, I was surprised to find I have a secret talent for it. Thirty minutes later when I decided to head inside for some family time I felt so good – a cross between a runner’s high and like I had just finished getting a massage. I also noticed my heart was racing, making me realize I must have gotten a decent workout as well. But all it felt like to me was FUN.
Quite frankly, I can’t remember when I ever tried hula-hooping before, even as a kid. And here I am, 32 years old thoroughly enjoying my new talent. (And I’m smiling in this photo I swear – it’s just the sun in my eyes!)
History of Hula-Hooping – Earlier than the 1950s?
It is believed that the ancient Greeks and Egyptians used hula-hoops for both fun and fitness. Children reportedly made hoops out of dried grapevines twisted together which they would roll along the ground with sticks. This type of game actually continued throughout the centuries until the early 20th century when cars started taking over the streets and kids had to get out of the way.
Meanwhile, our ancient sportsmen played a competitive game with hoops to increase their agility and fitness.
Then, somewhere, someone between the Ancient Greeks and 1950’s housewives picked up a hula-hoop and started rotating it around their waist, and hula-hooping was born. Although it became very popular in the 1950s but has started picking up steam again recently with celebrity endorsements and “hula fit” classes taking off in the UK and LA.
So here I am today bringing you 5 Hula Hooping Benefits in hopes that some other adults out there will pick up this habit and enjoy it as much as I do.
(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here. )
5 HULA-HOOPING BENEFITS
1. Burns As Much Fat as Treadmill Workouts
According to the American Council on exercise, hula-hooping can burn over 400 calories per hour. And even more, if you add in arms movements or weights.
I’ve always been naturally very thin so I’m not one to usually worry about how many calories I burn, but I do like to stay healthy. That’s why I only engage in forms of exercise that I consider fun: hiking, biking, Tae Kwon Do, and now hula-hooping.
Oh, and PS: You can burn the same amount of calories on a treadmill after an hour as hula-hooping. And in addition to burning stomach fat, hula-hooping can help tone the muscles of your midsection – abs, obliques, hips and lower back
To see results experts say you will need to hula-hoop for at least 10 minutes a day.
2. Can Replace Ab Workouts
I don’t know about you, but I hate ab exercises. Crunches are the worst, ya know?
However, because of my extremely long back (I’m basically a Weiner dog: short legs and a long back), I have to keep my core strong to prevent back pain.
In addition to burning belly fat, you will also tone the muscles of your midsection including abs, obliques, hips, and lower back. And tone muscles = strong muscles.
3. Strengthens Your Heart
You only have to hula-hoop for around 15 minutes to and feel your heartbeat to realize it works your heart. Fifteen to 30 minutes a day of any exercise strengthens your heart muscles and allows it to pump blood throughout your body more efficiently. In turn, this allows your heart to beat faster and also lowers your blood pressure. Maybe your young now and don’t think much about your heart but one day you will be happy you gave it a good workout!
According to a diet and fitness site called 3fatchicks:
“While performing hula hooping, you make very rhythmic rocking movements forward and backward, shifting your weight along the way. This kind of movement releases the tension of the muscles surrounding the sacrum (the lower part of the back) and realigns the sacrum with the rest of the spine. As a result, blood flow to the spine improves and total flexibility of the spine is increased.”
And everyone who works a desk job said “Amen.”
5. It gives you a massage.
Yes! After I hula-hooped I felt so good but couldn’t figure out why. My abs and back just felt like they had gotten a long massage – which they basically had.
Massaging any part of your body, especially with a hula-hoop, allows more blood to flow to your muscles, helps with oxygen supply, and makes your muscles stronger.
So this free massage not only feels good but is healthy for you too.
6. Works Out Your Brain
Hula-hooping can be very similar to meditation, surprisingly. The rocking and rhythm cause relaxation and cause deep breathing. The repetitive motion is smooth. Also, it takes a certain level of concentration to hula-hooping, training your mind as well. When I hula-hoop it is easy for me to get lost in thought, which can be very relaxing, too.
7. Fights Anxiety and Depression by increases endorphins
As Elle Woods would say, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t kill their husbands. They just don’t.”
I don’t run (except confrontation) so I’ve never experienced a runner’s high. However, the hula-hoop high feels amazing! It’s this relaxed sort of happy high that also makes hula-hooping a great activity for those battling anxiety and depression.
Hula-Hooping Tips For Beginners
After watching members of my family try to hula-hoop I realized it might not come as easily to everyone else as it did to me. (As I noticed when my brother in law gave it a go.) So here are a few tips I’ve found that worked if you’re just starting out.
1.) Find the right hoop. The largest the hoop the easier it will be to spin.Click here to get your own weighted hula hoop! Find one that when you stand it up straight comes up to your belly button.
2.) Wear tighter fitting clothes. Yoga pants are not necessary but you also don’t want to wear anything flowy that can get caught in the hoop.
3.) Try standing legs shoulder-width apart, with one foot almost a foot in front of the other. (I tend to put my left foot forward but figure out what feels best for you.
4.) KEEP YOUR BACK STRAIGHT. No bending over here or you will lose control.
5.) Hold the hula hoop on each side, making sure it is level. If not level you will automatically lose control of the rhythm.
6.) Rest the hula hoop against your back and rock it back and forth a few times to “wind up” then spin it towards whichever way feels most natural.
7.) A good spin should be able to go around your waist a few times with little to no effort from the rest of your body. But after it goes around once start “rocking” your hips back and forth. This is a basic form of hula-hooping that most anyone should be able to try.
8.) Keep an even steady rhythm and you can literally go forever.
9.) If it starts to slip bend down slightly to try to regain control of the hoop. (Don’t worry if it doesn’t work – eventually, you’ll get it!)
Want to take it to the next level?
5 Steps to Kick-Up Your Hula-Hooping Game
- Once you get really good, try ROTATING the direction of the hula-hooping. It will not only engage other parts of your body but your mind.
- You could also try adding in weights, either by buying a hula hoop which they can be added to or just hold in your arms.
- Add in squats. I’m still working my way up to becoming really good at this. Right now I can do a few and then I lose the hoop.
- Squeeze your glutes for an extra butt workout.
- Add in lunges. Standing in a lunge position and just hula hoop from there. I like to do 100 circles on each side. Trust me, you’ll feel the burn!)
For more tips, instructions and a DANCE, check out this video from ACE fitness: