Diabetes and Exercise: Hooping For The Health of It

If you are of the mindset that exercise and losing weight should be fun, consider becoming a hooper, which is short for hula hooper.

Not only does hula hooping feel like a substantial workout, research confirms it has major cardio and calorie-burning benefits.

At the University of Wisconsin in LaCrosse a group of women wore oxygen analyzers, and heart rate monitors while following a 35 minute hooping exercise video. They burned an average of 210 calories during 30 minutes of hooping, and averaged 151 heart beats per minute.

These results indicate that a hooping workout is comparable to boot-camp classes, step aerobics, and cardio kickboxing. “Before we did the study, I didn’t imagine the heart-rate averages would be so high,” said researcher Jordan Holthusen. “I was really impressed by how intense of a workout you can get hooping and how many calories you can burn.”

5 Minutes or 45: Big Benefits

Though hooping can be a vigorous workout, it may also be used to simply add more movement to our day. We could decide to hoop during TV commercials or take a break from our desk every hour to put in a couple minutes of hoop time. Ten minutes of hooping might be a great way to get our engine going in the morning.

Even with light or moderate regular practice, we will soon begin to notice that hooping:

  • Tones and strengthens core muscles, diminishes belly fat, and whittles the waistline.
  • Helps keep our back strong, and the spine flexible. The rocking movements of hooping relax lower back muscles, allowing the sacrum to realign with the middle and upper spine.
  • Stimulates our brain and improves eye-hand coordination. Hooping in both directions (clockwise and counterclockwise) engages our dominant and non-dominant sides of the brain, helping to balance the body.
  • Has an uplifting effect on the psyche, according to regular hoopers. It helps people feel younger, stronger, and more confident.

Like running, hula hooping can be either a solo or group activity, is beneficial whether done a little or a lot, and most anyone can do it. However, before going up to the attic and dusting off an old toy hula hoop, check with a doctor to make sure hooping suits your back, overall health, and fitness level.

Beginners will also want to purchase an adult sized hoop. They are much easier to twirl about the body than kiddie versions.

The Scoop on Hoops

Adult hoops generally weigh one pound, and should stand from the ground to somewhere between a hooper’s belly button and solar plexus. A larger person may want an even taller one.

Do not confuse adult hoops with “weighted hoops” that have up to ten pounds of weights added to them. Weighted hoops are used for specific fitness purposes, and usually for limited periods of time. They are a beneficial exercise tool, but if used improperly might cause injury. An adult sized hoop is the safest choice for most amateur hoopers.

If you want to learn more, there is plenty of new-hooper advice online (Google “hula hoop” or “hooping”), a plethora of YouTube hoop demos and exercise routines, and there's at least one active hooping community on Facebook (link below).

Sources: ACE Fitness; Hoopnotica; Hooping; Facebook/Hooping Community
Photo credit: Paul Stein

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