Hula Hoop Exercise | US News

If you haven’t seen a hula hoop since childhood, it’s time to take another look. Tires of all kinds are no longer just toys, but popular training equipment. But is hooping really a good exercise? “We don’t have a lot of evidence to support this, but it appears that it has the potential for the same general exercise benefits as jogging or cycling,” says James W. Hicks, a cardiopulmonary physiologist at the University of California – Irvine.

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What is a hula hoop?

A training tire is a ring made of lightweight material that you twist around your middle or around other parts of your body such as your arms, knees, or ankles. You keep the tire moving by rocking (not pivoting) your stomach or limbs vigorously back and forth, and the laws of physics – centripetal force, speed, acceleration, and gravity, for example – do the rest.

Gym hoops have been around for hundreds (if not thousands) of years and gained worldwide fame in 1958. It was then that Wham-O invented a hollow, lightweight plastic tire (patented as a hula hoop) that became a fad. Wham-O still manufactures and sells its Hula Hoop today, with company representatives pointing out that the hoops are available at all levels of retail and wholesale distribution around the world.

Since the hula hoop first made a splash, other companies have made hoops as toys or exercise equipment. Note, however, that only Wham-O’s hoop is officially a hula hoop (the company heavily monitors and protects its brand), although people often refer to all exercise hoops as “hula hoops.”

The hooping trend

The popularity of exercise hoops has increased and decreased. They were scorching hot in the 1950s and 60s and then became a constant buzz of use.

In 2020, pandemic isolation brought the tires back to glory. Sports enthusiasts (stuck at home) began looking for ways to spice up their workouts and turned to the tires. They posted their own hoop videos on social media and received millions of views.

What’s the attraction? “It’s fun. And as much as we try to convince ourselves otherwise, not all exercises are fun. Plus, this is a workout that is inexpensive and can be done from the comfort of your home, with your own soundtrack to your workout can add, ”says Kristin Weitzel, certified fitness trainer in Los Angeles.

Mechanical advantages

In order to spin a training tire over any period of time, you need to activate many muscle groups. To do it: “It takes all of the core muscles (like the straight stomach and transverse stomach) and the muscles in your buttocks (the glutes), thighs (the quadriceps and hamstrings), and the calves. That’s the same amount of muscle that you activate while walking, jogging, or cycling, ”says Hicks.

Turning the hoop on your arm will work even more muscles – those in your shoulders, chest and back.

Some experts suggest that tires can also help with back pain. “It can be a great rehab exercise to get you out of pain. It’s a core exercise with a good dose of mobility training, exactly what some types of back pain need to get better, ”said Alex Tauberg, chiropractor and certified strength and conditioning specialist in Pittsburgh.

Hooping and Aerobic Benefits

After a few minutes of steady hopping, get your heart and lungs pumping and turning the activity into an aerobic workout. “When you activate sufficient muscle mass, you boost your metabolism and get the training response of increased oxygen consumption and heart rate, as well as the general benefits of aerobic exercise,” explains Hicks.

To get these benefits, it takes 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic activity a day, five days a week, according to Hicks.

Recent evidence suggests that some of the tire’s benefits may show up even with shorter workouts. A small, randomized study from 2019 found that people who hopped about 13 minutes a day for six weeks lost more fat and inches around their waistlines, improved abdominal muscle mass, and lowered more “bad” LDL cholesterol levels than people who did went every day day for six weeks.

Risks with tires

Since a hoop workout involves intense exercise, there are some risks to consider.

  • Circling around the center can be too strenuous for people with hip or lumbar osteoarthritis.
  • Hooping can increase the risk of falls if you have balance issues.
  • A weightlifting element is missing when hooping. “While you can do a lot with a tire, you lack resistance-based training like traditional weightlifting – think biceps curls or deadlifts,” said Carrie Hall, certified personal trainer in Phoenix.
  • Hooping can be easy to overdo. “It is important to start gradually. Clamping too much too soon can result in an Overuse Injury. Because of this, people should include it in their fitness routines and gradually develop a tolerance for it, ”recommends Jasmine Marcus, a physical therapist and certified strength and conditioning specialist in Ithaca, New York.
  • Some people report bruising in the abdomen after using weighted tires on the heavier side.


Make sure your doctor gives you permission to start maturing if you have an underlying medical condition. Then take a tire; The cost ranges from a few dollars to around $ 60, depending on the type of tire.

You can choose between lightweight plastic tires or weighted tires. “Weighted hoops are made of a much softer material and are usually thicker than a traditional hula hoop. Some tires even come with a weighted sack attached to a rope, ”says Weitzel. “Regardless of the design, a weighted tire is generally between 1 and 5 pounds. The heavier it is, the longer you can walk and the easier it is, but it also takes longer to use the same amount of energy as a lighter weighted tire. “

What type of tire should you start with? Weighted tires are easier to use. “If you are new to tires, buy a weighted tire that will help you improve your shape and develop the ability to maintain it over time,” recommends Darlene Bellarmino, a certified personal trainer in Ridgewood, New Jersey.

Size also plays a role. “The hoop should be around your waist or lower chest when it rests vertically on the floor. This is an easy way to ensure that you can actually “hula” the hoop at your size, ”says Weitzel. “Note, however, that some of the weighted tires that have the weighted sack tied with a rope have a much smaller opening than regular tires. These are usually adjustable with chain links that you can adjust to your waist. “

Make a fuss

For training ideas, visit hooping websites or free videos on YouTube. Try a beginner’s course and slowly increase how long you can keep the tire going.

When you get the hang of it, consider this Carrie Hall tire routine:

  • Start with a warm-up around your core with intervals of 40 seconds on, 20 seconds off; repeat this three times.
  • Put the hoop on your arm and make an arm circle for a minute; repeat on the other arm.
  • Wrap the hoop around an ankle and skip the hoop while swinging the hoop with your ankle for a minute; repeat with the other leg.
  • Finally, use the hoop as a skipping rope for two minutes.
  • Repeat the workout two to three times.

Don’t give up when it takes time to get to the point for an extended period of time. “Just because it’s fun and looks easy when someone else does it doesn’t mean it is,” says Bellarmino. “As with anything, step back a little, regroup and try again. You’ll like it in the end while you get a great workout and have fun. “

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