Hula hooping not just child’s play

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Here’s an exercise you might not have considered for burning calories and staying fit: hula hooping. I wouldn’t have come up with that myself, but apparently hula hooping can zap away about as many calories as a step class or even a boot camp, according to a recent study from the American Council on Exercise (ACE), a non-profit fitness education and certification organization out of San Diego, California.



In the study commissioned by ACE, female study participants, ages 16-39, burned on average 210 calories doing 30 minutes of hula hooping. I bet they had fun doing it, too.



I’ll admit that I haven’t tried hula hooping since maybe about grade seven, although I might have given it a go at my daughter’s third birthday party a few years ago. Despite my lack of experience with hula hopping, I’m encouraged by the ACE study results, which help endorse playful, non-intimidating exercise for people of all ages. I love that!



To find out more about the benefits of hula hooping for fitness – which include cardio, muscle toning and core conditioning – I spoke with Cedric Bryant, Ph.D., Chief Science Officer at the American Council on Exercise. He set me straight on a few things to do with this exercise format, including the type of equipment needed.



Turns out, serious hula hoopers aren’t working with those hollow plastic hoops you might have used as a kid. Today’s hoops are heavier, weighing in at one to four pounds, which actually makes them ideal for hooping newbies, Bryant told me, because a heavier hoop rotates around the body more slowly so it doesn’t drop to the floor quite as easily. That helps you keep the workout in motion for longer.



And since fitness hula hooping includes rotating the hoop around your arms and legs in addition to your waist, you get the added benefit of engaging and toning muscles throughout your whole body, not just around the abs and back.


Even with all these benefits, I’m still trying to decide if hula hooping is my thing (children’s birthday parties aside, of course). Have you tried it? What do you think of it?

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