What Are the Benefits of Exercising Abs With a Hula Hoop?

by Lisa M. Wolfe, Demand Media
    Strengthen your abs standing up with hooping.

    Strengthen your abs standing up with hooping.

    Instead of lying on the floor and repeating the same abdominal exercises you've done for years, stand up, wiggle, smile, have fun and strengthen your abs at the same time. Hula hooping not only exercises your core, you burn calories too, which affects the look of your abs. Get up, grab your pretty plastic circle and hoop your way to fitness.

    Hoop

    Hula hooping does not use small, child-size hoops. An adult-sized hoop that measures between 37 and 45 inches in diameter is easier to use. The larger hoops spin slower, which helps you keep the hoop spinning instead of bending to pick up a dropped hoop.

    Waist Hooping

    An effective hula hoop workout begins with proper waist-hooping technique. Stand in the middle of the hoop with one foot in front of the other. Hold the hoop in both hands with your palms facing in. Rotate your torso and the hoop to one side and then quickly toss the hoop in the opposite direction around your waist. Face forward and push your hips forward and backward to keep the hoop spinning. If it begins to fall, wiggle your hips side to side to catch the hoop, or speed up your forward and backward movements. One direction will feel better than the other, so if you struggle, switch the position of your feet or the direction of your spinning hoop.

    Abdominal Strength

    The muscles in your abdomen include the transverse abdominis, which is the deepest part of abdominal muscles. When you tighten your stomach and flatten your belly button toward your spine, the transverse abdominis contracts. Your obliques are located on the sides of your abdomen. The rectus abdominis is the muscle that makes up the "six pack" appearance. Each time you push forward and tilt up your hips during hula hooping, your rectus abdominis contracts. When you wiggle from side to side to catch the hoop, your obliques contract. As your skills improve and you hoop on angles, speed up or raise and lower the hoop, your abdominals are strengthened through the movements.

    Core Flexibility

    Your abs not only benefit in strength, the muscles stay flexible when you practice hula hoop exercises. Each time you push your hips backward, you lengthen your abdominal area and stretch the muscles. As you spin, wiggle and shake your hips, your core stretches along the front and sides.

    Calories

    Hula hooping is a low-impact exercise that burns a high amount of calories. According to the American Council on Exercise, 30 minutes of hooping burns approximately 210 calories. This also benefits your abs. When you have less fat on top of your abdominal area, you are able to see your ab muscles more easily. As you burn calories, improve your weight and strengthen your abs, hooping becomes easier and your hula hooping duration increases. The longer you hoop, the better the benefits.

    About the Author

    Lisa M. Wolfe had her first fitness article published in 2001. She writes for various magazines such as "Cycle California," "Rocky Mountain Sports" and "American Fitness." She is the author of numerous fitness books and holds an Associate of Arts in exercise science from Oakland Community College.

    Photo Credits

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