Do you remember hula hooping when you were a kid? It was so much fun it never seemed like ‘exercise.’ But to do it now? Really? Yes — really — hula hooping with a heavier version of the classic hula hoop is all the rage on TikTok, with posts on ‘weighted hula hoops’ garnering over 2.4 billion views. One reason that it’s so popular is that it actually takes less coordination to spin a weighted hoop than a lightweight version. Another reason weighted hoops are all the rage: the activity is study-proven to burn 442% more belly fat in minutes than a whole lot of walking (more about that below). What cinched our interest in the new trend: One hula-hooper, retiree Mollie Kamm, shrunk her waist by 19 inches at age 59. Keep reading to learn more about using hula hoops for weight loss, what the different hoop options are, how real women have made it work for them to figure out if hooping might be right for you.
Where did hula hoops come from?
Brand-name Hula-Hoops were hollow plastic rings first released by the Wham-O toy company in 1958. They sold 25 million hoops in just two months and made the company $45 million in a year — equivalent to about $470 million today. Fun fact: Wham-O didn’t make the original hoop. The company was inspired by bamboo hoops used in kids’ gym classes in Australia. There’s also evidence that hoops made from materials like willow and grapevines have been used for dance and play since 500 BC. (Click through to read more about nostalgic workouts like hula hooping and trampolines.)One thing all the old-timey hoops have in common: They’re lightweight. Spinning them hula-style gets heart rates up, so the activity is a form of low-impact aerobics. In the late 1990s, however, people using traditional hoops to help achieve health and fitness goals began adding weight to hoops to make them better at toning muscles in the midsection. Bonus: Added weight slows the motion of the hoop, so it also becomes easier to control.
Do weighted hula hoops really work?
Over the years, a number of studies have been done on weighted hula hoops. One of the most recent compared using a weighted hoop for about 13 minutes a day to walking 9,800 steps a day (which is roughly five miles and takes most folks about 50 minutes). The result? Both forms of activity had benefits, but hooping proved better at lowering bad cholesterol and it helped women shrink their waists 442% faster, says researcher Mari Lahelma, MD, PhD, and her University of Helskini team.
The best hoops for weight loss
Halfpoint Images/GettyThere are two types of weighted hula hoops that can help boost results:
1. Traditional weighted hula hoops
These look like beefy versions of toy hoops and are a great choice for anyone fairly coordinated who wants to recreate Hula-Hoop magic from childhood. “They’re simply made of heavier materials so your body work harder to move the hoop,” explains fitness expert Tosca Reno, 64, author of Your Best Body Now. Hoop weights vary, but most are two or three pounds. Reno, a fan of hooping, recommends versions like the Better Sense Hoola Hoop ($26 on Amazon) and the ACU Hoop 5L ($60 on Amazon). If you pick one up and have trouble keeping it spinning, you can find lots of great tutorials on YouTube to get you started.
2. Infinity-style hoops
This new twist on the hula hoop has become a TikTok darling and is the reason hooping is suddenly getting so much attention. An infinity-style hoop is a belt that fits snug to your waist. It has removable links, so you customize it to your exact size. “As you move, a weight swings around your body,” Reno explains. “The motion is similar to a hula hoop but requires less precision timing.” (If you need help getting the hang of it, you can find tutorials on YouTube.)Also cool: It’s simple to tell if they hoop is working because it starts to get loose. You then remove a link from the belt to adjust to your new size. The Infinity Hoop brand sells for about $60. Plus it comes with some nice perks (see below). You can also find less expensive versions on Amazon like the Dumoyi Smart Weighted Fit Belt for $27.
Whether you choose a traditional weighted hoop or a weighted infinity-style hoop, Reno says both choices are great exercise “and a lot of fun!”
How long to use a weighted hula hoop to see results
The Infinity Hoop team challenges you to hoop for 30 minutes a day. They says that if you don’t need to make your hoop one link smaller — equal to two inches or 1-2 waistband sizes — after 30 days, you get your money back and you can still keep the hoop. Want to see it in action? Check out this TikTok:@infinityhoop@Simply Kathy Elizabeth♬ Blank Space bridge – Kaylen
Hula hoop success story: Mollie Kamm, 59
Hayley Schwartz/Hayley C Photography, GettyWalking into her bathroom on a brisk Ontario morning, Mollie Kamm weighed herself on a whim and found she’d hit 352.1 pounds. It was her all-time high. She considered cutting herself some slack, since it was smack in the middle of the holiday season. But then she started thinking about how hard it had become for her to get around, how tired she was all the time. “I asked myself, ‘How bad will you let it get?’” Mollie recalls. “Are you going to go until you’re 400 pounds?” She vowed to make changes. Years before, Mollie had success with support from her local TOPS weight-loss group. She was soon attending meetings again via Zoom. She continued eating her normal foods, aiming to stay under 1,600 calories a day and using the treadmill in her basement. In a month, she shed 15.2 pounds. As time passed, TOPS got her excited to start taking walks with her husband, Robert, and to try virtual ‘chair dancing’ classes, which she loved. She began sneaking more nutrients into her menus, adding things like fruit, almonds and new salad combos. “The more I did, the more I wanted to do. I wanted to keep seeing the scale go down,” she says.
Weighted hula hoop results
In the midst of it all, Mollie’s TOPS friend Lucy learned about the benefits of hula hooping at a TOPS convention. She started using it to shrink her waist — so Mollie tried too. She got a pink weighted hula hoop; it looked like a toy but was designed to help develop muscles that keep our middles strong and taut. How’d it go? “It’s more of a bend over and scoop it back up exercise for me,” she told Lucy, laughing. For a while, the hoop was forgotten. But Lucy was obsessed. “Will you give it another try?” she asked Mollie. So Mollie did. She put the hoop around her hips, gave it a spin and tried rhythmically pushing with her belly and then with her back. It spun around. She could do it! Mollie thought it was a lot of fun, so she kept it up. She finally understood why it was earning raves from Lucy — and a whole lot of people on TikTok.
Mollie today: 195 lbs slimmer
Today she’s down 195 pounds, give or take. She’s traded her size 4Xs for 10s. And her weighted hoop is helping her maintain a waist that’s about 19 inches tinier than it used to be. Because Mollie found the hoop and other activities that literally feel like child’s play, “I know I’ll keep doing them, and hopefully find more fun things along the way,” says the retiree, 59. “I’m going to maintain the same way I lost: focusing on the positive, one day at a time.” Of course, she hasn’t completely blocked out the past: “I’m wearing dresses that haven’t fit me since 2009!”
Foods that boost the waist-shrinking benefits of hula hooping
Once you’re hooping, to shrink your middle even faster, experts suggest following a plan that emphasizes belly-flattening protein and fiber. You’ll find great options to try at TOPS.org (a low-cost organization across the U.S. and Canada) and MyFitnessPal.com (which offers a basic program for free.) Nutrition pro Tosca Reno also suggests limit belly-plumping processed food as you load up on proven belly-fat fighters like these:
1. Green tea
Antioxidants in green tea help burn up to 2,466% more belly fat when we’re active, according to a study in The Journal of Nutrition. Drink it hot or iced, even with fun flavorings. Just skip dairy, which contains compounds that can block green tea’s benefits. (Click through for more on how green tea boosts weight loss.)
2. Yogurt + berries
Dieters who up their dairy intake can double belly fat loss, according to research reported in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. And berry compounds may help block the formation of new ab flab.
3. Beans + sweets
Pair beans and sweet potato to unleash compounds that may lower belly-fattening insulin levels by 73% as the belly-flattening hormone adiponectin spikes 95%.
4. Salmon + broccoli
Omega-3s in salmon help burn belly fat when we’re active; meanwhile a special substance called indole in broccoli fights age-related belly fat in women
Bonus recipe: Belly-flattening pizza hummus dip
hipokrat/GettyNutrients in beans, cheese, veggies and whole grains all help melt belly fat.Ingredients:
⅓ cup dry-packed sundried tomatoes 16 oz. container hummus 2 Tbs. parmesan cheese 1 Tbs. Italian seasoning Veggies and whole-grain bread for dippingDirections:
Soak tomatoes in hot water for about 10 minutes to soften. Drain. Add to food processor/blender with hummus, cheese and seasoning; blitz. Serves 16For more “old-school” ways to lose weight that are making a big comeback, click through:
The New Grapefruit Diet: Top Doc’s Easy Twist Is Helping Women Over 50 Lose Weight Fast — Without Feeling HungryCottage Cheese: The Old-Fashioned Diet Food Is the Hot New Way to Melt Fat — Even Doctors Are Using It to Lose Weight!News: The Top 10 Soup Ingredients To Speed Weight Loss, According To NutritionistsThis article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.Woman’s World aims to feature only the best products and services. We update when possible, but deals expire and prices can change. If you buy something via one of our links, we may earn a commission.Questions? Reach us at [email protected]