What Does Hula Hoop Exercise Do for the Body?

Woman with a plastic hoop toy

The hula hoop is a child's toy that has become an effective workout tool for adults who want to lose weight and tone their bodies. Using a hula hoop works your arm, leg and core muscles. Hula hooping is a total-body workout that not only tones your muscles, but also improves joint flexibility and balance. The rocking motion of hula hooping is also relaxing and fun, which can relieve stress.

Hula Hoop Form

Warm up before doing hula hoop exercise by stretching your arms, legs and back muscles. Put one foot forward with a hula hoop around your waist and pressed against your lower back. To begin, swing the hula hoop around your waist. Keep the hula hoop rotating around your body by shifting your weight back and forth between your feet in a rocking motion. Gently rock your hips back and forth or in a circular motion as you become more adept at keeping the hoop rotating. Exercise using a hula hoop for five to 10 minutes in the beginning. Increase exercise time by five minutes every day until you can hula hoop for 30 full minutes. Select a hoop that reaches to your waist when you hold it on the ground against your side. Start with a large, weighted hoop because it is easier to keep these hoops going than the small, lightweight hoops.

Leg and Back Muscles

The rhythmic back-and-forth motion of your body flexes and rotates your spine, hip and knee joints. As you move your legs and hips to keep the hoop going, the motion exercises your hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, dorsiflexors on the front of your lower leg and your calf muscles on the back of your leg.

Core and Gluteal Strengthening

The rotating motion required to keep the hula hoop around the waist helps to strengthen and tone all the core muscles. A strong core is essential to balance and good posture. The gluteal, or buttocks, and hip muscles also get a good workout when you hula hoop. Rotating the hoop higher on the waist while contracting the abdominal and gluteal muscles helps to strengthen and tone your core by working out the abdominal muscles.

Joint Flexibility

Flexing your muscles and moving your body in a gentle rocking motion when using the hula hoop is an effective and safe way to improve your joint flexibility. Hula hoop exercise is a low-impact activity, which makes it a good option for people with joint conditions, such as arthritis. The motion of the body is gentle and rhythmic, which helps to loosen up stiff joints to improve range of motion.

Weight Loss

A study by the American Council on Fitness, “Hooping: Effective Workout or Child’s Play?” by Jordan Holthusen, M.S., et al., found that exercising with a hula hoop resulted in burning calories similar to exercises done in more rigorous programs like boot camps. You can expect to burn about 200 calories in 30 minutes of hula hoop exercise. Thirty-minutes of hula hoop exercise burns as many calories as the same amount of time spent doing more strenuous exercises.