Content warning: weight loss, calories, mention of diets and eating disorders.
We searched for google’s top questions about hula hooping and put them together in this blog, to answer all your burning questions. Nearly all search terms around hooping were about the waist-slimming effects of hula hooping. They were mostly: does hula hooping give me a flat stomach? Can hula hooping slim your waist? Will hula hooping give you abs? We wanted to share the facts with you today:
A note on your body
It’s important before we get started, to remind you that there is so much more to life than shrinking your body. We want to be able to address your questions about whether hula hooping can slim your waist without adding to the voices telling you how you should look.
All of us are bombarded with diet ads, pictures of models, and the societal pressure that being slimmer is ideal and is better for our health. The fact is that we don’t need to buy into it. Health is so much more than our body size. Good health involves so many factors including our mental health, our activity levels, how much sleep we get, whether we are ill or not. Thin = healthy and fat = unhealthy is outdated and inaccurate.
We want to separate the idea of enjoying physical fitness from weight loss. For many people, becoming more active is a great idea. But there are a whole host of benefits that are far more important than changing how your body looks: mental health benefits, a better night’s sleep, a healthier heart, improving core strength and posture to name a few. You can become stronger, fitter and healthier without becoming skinnier.
However, if you have decided to hula hoop as a way to lose weight, we want to arm you with the facts. This way, you can make an informed decision about your body.
What’s the ‘most effective’ exercise?
Trends come and go in fitness. Whether it’s HIIT, dance fitness, boxing-related fitness, there are a whole host of options for workouts out there. Often people are searching for the ‘best’ kind of exercise for their body. The truth is the best exercise is the one that you enjoy enough to do regularly.
If you’ve signed up for a new fitness class, but you end up pushing yourself so far that you dread the workout, you will eventually give it up. If you find a class that makes you feel amazing, you’ll look forward to it every week and keep it up in the long run. This is is great for habit building.
One of the best benefits of hula hooping is that it is exercise in disguise – you don’t realise how hard you’re working! And most of all, it is FUN so you’ll keep it up.
You can’t target weight loss to a specific area
Hula hooping is so often marketed as a quick-fix path to rock-hard abs and a six-pack. But, the reality is that things are more nuanced than that.
You can’t target fat loss to a specific area. This is known as spot reduction and is a myth. You can build muscles in a specific area by working those muscles, but you can’t target fat loss to an area such as your stomach.
Diet plays a significant role in weight loss, which helps with the overall reduction of fat in your body. But it’s really important to be careful with dieting. Researchers have found a history of dieting can be a cause for long-term weight gain. Also, developing controlling eating habits can be dangerous and could lead to an eating disorder. Look after yourself, and seek support if you notice your behaviour becoming obsessive.
Does hula hooping ‘burn fat?’
We find the phrase ‘burning fat’ somewhat misleading. Exercise, including hula hooping, helps you burn more calories. We burn our calories from the food that we have recently eaten. If our body has insufficient food at hand, it turns to our fat reserves for more calories. We found this article helpful if you want more details.
Does hula hooping flatten your stomach?
Hula hooping requires constant push-pull contractions in your core muscles. Practising regularly is an excellent way to target and train your abdominal muscles. However, a flat stomach usually comes from lowering your body fat, which is primarily diet. So hula hooping can play an important part, but it isn’t a shortcut to a flat stomach.
There are lots of fantastic hula hoopers with strong abs and soft tummies and that is absolutely amazing too!
Does hula hooping slim your waist?
Hula hooping is an excellent abdominal workout. When you hula hoop you build strength in your core, which improves your posture, reduces back injuries. Just make sure you spin the hoop in both directions so your muscles develop evenly!
We found two studies looking at the effects of weighted hula hooping on people’s waists. Here’s what they said:
One study measured the effect of hula hooping with a weighted hoop on the waists of 13 women. After six weeks of hula hooping, on average the researchers found a notable reduction in their hip and waist circumference. They measured a reduction of 3.4 cm and 1.4 cm respectively.
This fits with testimonials from our HulaFit class participants who have noticed a reduction in their own waists. Although a sample size of 13 is quite small for a study. We’d love to see more research on this with larger sample sizes!
Another study compared the effects of weighted hula hooping with daily walking in 55 people with a BMI of over 28 (btw, BMI is deeply flawed and not a good indicator of health). Those in the hula hoop group saw a reduction in body fat around their stomach and waist that wasn’t present in the walking group. The hula hoopers also saw increased muscle mass in their abdominal area. Both the walkers and the hula hoopers reduced their waist circumference, but the hula hoopers saw a larger difference (3.1cm vs 0.7cm on average). The hula hoop group also saw a reduction in LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol. Promising stuff!
Can hula hooping help your posture?
Having great posture can make a huge difference in how you look on a day-to-day basis. If you stand in front of a mirror and slouch, your shoulders roll forward and your belly sticks out. However, if you stand tall, with a lifted chest you look slimmer.
Hula hooping helps you maintain good posture, as you have to stand with good posture to keep the hoop up. This means standing tall with a lifted chest and engaged stomach muscles. Hula hooping helps you strengthen the muscles that help you stand up straight. This helps you look and feel more confident.
So what have we discovered? The research says hula hooping can help you slim your waist, build core strength, improve posture and is a great tool for living a more active life. However, it’s not a magic bullet that will suddenly lead to mega abs.
A huge part of living a more active lifestyle is finding a type of exercise that you enjoy. We reckon hula hooping is so fun that once you start you’ll want to keep it up forever. Your body will thank you for being more active.
Also, one more time for the people at the back: your worth isn’t about your body size or your waist circumference! You may take up hula hooping and keep the same waist size, but be stronger and more confident. That’s amazing too!
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, contact beat for non-judgemental support.