Move Your Hips to Burn More Calories

Hula hoops aren't only for kids. Learn how this simple toy can be a great workout tool.

two elderly women use hula hoops for exercise

Medically reviewed in February 2021

Updated on March 15, 2022

Here's a simple piece of exercise equipment that costs about $5 but can help you burn over 200 calories in 30 minutes: a hula hoop.

Ancient Greeks did it to stay in shape. Maybe we should, too. Especially given the results of one study, where young women were able to burn about 210 calories in a half-hour hula hoop exercise class. That's about the same calorie burn you'd get from walking for 30 minutes.

Hoop dreams
Most of us skimp on exercise at some point. We get tired, we don't want to leave the house, or the weather is bad for our usual outdoor walk or bike ride. Enter the hula hoop. Not only is it a great way to burn calories, but it also engages your core muscles, so it firms your middle, too. And research suggests that hooping can also increase agility, coordination, and overall athleticism. 

Go around in circles
Hooping is strenuous enough to increase cardiovascular fitness and help you slim down. Any hoop will do for a start, including the pink fluorescent toy version your kids have in the garage. But eventually you should work your way up to a weighted hoop made for exercise. That will give you the best workout and maximum calorie burn.

Combined with regular cardiovascular exercise a week—at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity movement—a hoop can be a great addition to your overall fitness plan.

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