Remember your childhood days when you had the most fun whirling those hula-hoops around your body? It kept you occupied for hours on end, didn't it? The undulating motions of your body kept your attention totally transfixed to the brightly-colored hoops spinning around your body. There was fun to be had as you swayed your hips in rhythm with the music. There was real challenge, too: How do you keep the hula hoops spinning around your waist for long periods without letting them fall to your feet?
While hula hooping has been considered a fun childhood activity, an American Council on Exercise study has showed that it does indeed provide a good cardiovascular workout. The study which involved 16 intermediate to advanced women hoopers with an age range of 16 to 59 years old, required them to complete a 35-minute hula hooping workout. Their oxygen consumption (VO2 max) and heart rate were measured every minute for the whole thirty minutes of the routine. Every five minutes, their individual ratings of perceived exertion were also taken. We quote the February 8, 2011 report for the results: "At the conclusion of the test, researchers found hooping burns an average of 210 calories during a 30-minute hooping workout (approximately 420 calories per hour), which is comparable to the exertion of boot camp-style classes, step aerobics and cardio kickboxing. The average HR was 151 beats per minute, which is equivalent to 84 percent of the age-predicted HRmax for the average subject. Further, the RPE average was rated as "somewhat hard" on the Borg Scale." With these results, it is obvious that hula hooping offers the following health benefits:
1. It is an effective aerobic exercise that gives a complete workout to your major muscle groups and allowing you to achieve your target heart rate for a sustained period of time.
2. The 420 calories per hour burned doing the hoops is more than what you can burn doing low-impact land based aerobics or a water aerobics workout. This makes it a good exercise routine to follow for those aspiring to lose weight.
3. Because it engages your back, pelvis and abdominal muscles, it's a good core strengthening routine. With a stronger core, better posture and more efficient movements are achieved.
4. The rotating movements needed to keep the hula hoops from sliding to the floor develop balance, flexibility and coordination.
5. The rhythmic nature of hula hooping encourages concentration. This has a positive mental effect of enhancing an individual's focus to finish a certain task, no matter how difficult.
If you are interested to try hooping, get adult hoops that usually measure about 40 inches wide and weighs about 3 to 5 pounds. While you are still learning the workout, opt for a heavier hoop inasmuch as lighter hoops entail more work to keep it from falling on the floor. Many mind-body classes like Yoga and Pilates now incorporate hula hoop sessions into their regimen. So don't be surprised if your Yoga instructor tells you to bring a hula hoop the next time you meet!