ACE Reveals Findings on Hula Hooping Workouts

Posted: Feb 08, 2011 in

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (February 8, 2011)—The American Council on Exercise, America’s leading authority on fitness and the largest nonprofit fitness certification, education and training organization in the world, today announced exclusive study findings that conclude hula hooping workouts offer substantial and positive results.  With no scientific literature to support the fitness benefits of hooping, the Council commissioned a team from the exercise and health program at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, led by Jordan Holthusen, M.S., and John Porcari, Ph.D., to test whether the modernized workout version of hula hooping provides effective calorie-burning and cardiovascular benefits.  Hooping has become an increasingly popular fitness trend that is being integrated into Pilates, yoga and dance classes nationwide.

“With the evolution of hooping over recent years to become a nationwide exercise trend, we felt it was important to evaluate hooping’s efficacy as a regular fitness regimen component,” says ACE’s Chief Science Officer, Cedric X. Bryant, Ph.D.  “The findings from our commissioned study indicate that hooping delivers a total-body workout that can improve flexibility and balance while strengthening the back, abdominal, arm and leg muscles.”

Hooping, which is thought to have originally been discovered in Ancient Egypt and Greece thousands of years ago when hoops were created from grapevines, is based on the hula hoops that gained popularity in the U.S. during the 1950s.  The primary differentiators with today’s fitness hoops include a larger diameter, ranging from 37 to 45 inches, and weighted hoops, ranging from one to four pounds.  These modifications enable exercisers to rotate the hoops around the body more slowly, allowing for extended workouts that may result in a higher calorie burn.

For this study, the researchers recruited 16 healthy women between the ages of 16 and 59, all of whom were intermediate- to advanced-level hoopers.  Participants completed two practice sessions prior to a test that consisted of using a 35-minute hooping workout developed by Mary Pulak, founder of the Hooked on Hooping exercise studio in Green Bay, Wisc.  Once test subjects were comfortable with the choreography, which included seven different routines, each wore a portable oxygen analyzer and a Polar® heart rate monitor to measure oxygen consumption (VO2 max) and recorded heart rate (HR), respectively.  As the subjects hooped along to the exercise DVD at their own pace and using a weighted hoop, HR and VO2 were measured at one-minute intervals throughout the 30-minute workout while individual ratings of perceived exertion (RPE), based on the Borg Scale, were surveyed every five minutes.

At the conclusion of the test, researchers found hooping burns an average of 210 calories during a 30-minute hooping workout (approximately 420 calories per hour), which is comparable to the exertion of boot camp-style classes, step aerobics and cardio kickboxing.  The average HR was 151 beats per minute, which is equivalent to 84 percent of the age-predicted HRmax for the average subject.  Further, the RPE average was rated as “somewhat hard” on the Borg Scale.

“Not only can hooping workouts result in improved cardiovascular health, muscle conditioning, flexibility and balance, but hoopers may also enjoy a fun, relaxing and potentially meditative effect due to the activity’s rhythmic nature,” Bryant adds.

A complete study summary can be found on ACE’s Get Fit™ website, located at

About ACE

The American Council on Exercise (ACE), America’s premier fitness education, certification and training organization, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the benefits of physical activity and protecting Americans against unsafe and ineffective fitness products and instruction.  ACE sponsors university-based exercise science research and is the world’s largest nonprofit fitness certifying organization.  For more information on ACE and its programs, call (800) 825-3636 or log onto the ACE website at


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