Effects of Weighted Hula-Hooping Compared to Walking on Abdominal Fat, Trunk Muscularity, and Metabolic Parameters in Overweight Subjects: A Randomized Controlled Study

Obes Facts. 2019;12(4):385-396. doi: 10.1159/000500572. Epub 2019 Jun 19.


Background: Weighted hula-hoops have gained popularity, but whether they indeed reshape the trunk or have beneficial metabolic effects in overweight subjects is unknown.

Objectives: To determine effects of hula-hooping and walking matched for energy expenditure on android fat %, trunk muscle mass, and metabolic parameters in a randomized cross-over study.

Design: We recruited 55 overweight nondiabetic subjects, who were randomized to hula-hooping (HULA) for 6 weeks using a 1.5-kg weighted hula-hoop followed by walking (WALK) for another 6 weeks or vice versa. The increments in energy expenditure were similar by HULA and WALK. Body composition (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) and metabolic parameters were measured at baseline and after HULA and WALK. The primary endpoint was the change in fat % in the android region.

Results: A total of 53subjects (waist 92 ± 1 cm, body mass index 28 ± 1 kg/m2) completed the study. Body weight changed similarly (-0.6 ± 0.2 vs. -0.5 ± 0.2 kg, nonsignificant; HULA vs. WALK). During the intervention the subjects hula-hooped on average 12.8 ± 0.5 min/day and walked 9,986 ± 376 steps/day. The % fat in the android region decreased significantly by HULA but not by WALK (between-group change p < 0.001). Trunk muscle mass increased more by HULA than by WALK (p < 0.05). Waist circumference decreased more by HULA than by WALK (-3.1 ± 0.3 cm vs. -0.7 ± 0.4 cm, p < 0.001; HULA vs. WALK). WALK but not HULA significantly lowered systolic blood pressure and increased HDL cholesterol while HULA significantly decreased LDL cholesterol.

Conclusions: Hula-hooping with a weighted hula-hoop can be used to decrease abdominal fat % and increase trunk muscle mass in overweight subjects. Its LDL lowering effect resembles that described for resistance training.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01913171.

Keywords: Body composition; Exercise; Obesity; Waist circumference.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Fat / diagnostic imaging
  • Abdominal Fat / metabolism
  • Abdominal Fat / pathology*
  • Abdominal Muscles / diagnostic imaging
  • Abdominal Muscles / metabolism
  • Abdominal Muscles / pathology*
  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Composition / physiology
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Exercise Therapy* / instrumentation
  • Exercise Therapy* / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Organ Size
  • Overweight / metabolism
  • Overweight / therapy*
  • Play and Playthings*
  • Waist Circumference / physiology
  • Walking / physiology*
  • Young Adult

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01913171