arthritis hula hooping

Mix Up Your Arthritis Workout With Hula Hooping

The popular childhood pastime hula hooping is back as a hot fitness trend. The workouts use heavier hoops – weighing one to five pounds – in fun routines set to music, says Joanne Wu, MD, a physical rehabilitation physician at Unity Spine Center in Rochester, New York, and owner of a wellness consulting company.

Although people with balance disorders shouldn’t try hula-hooping, the exercise is a gentle way to strengthen the core. In fact, Dr. Wu recommends it for her spine patients. “Hooping itself is a low-impact exercise that’s gentle on the joints,” says Dr. Wu. “It builds balance and strength, especially in the core and legs.”

Movements focus on twirling the hoop around the waist while standing or walking. Other moves include spinning it on one arm or leg. The hoop is also used as a prop for stretching and strengthening exercises, such as lunges. The result is a total-body cardiovascular workout. A 2011 study by researchers from the Exercise and Health Program at the University of Wisconsin, found that hula hooping can provide the same aerobic challenge as kickboxing and burning about 210 calories in 30 minutes.

Always ask the instructor for modifications to make the moves safer for your affected joints. Some advanced moves, such as rotating the hoop around one hand, may apply too much pressure to painful joints. “You may need to use a lighter hoop so you don’t need to use as much strength or force to keep it moving,” says Dr. Wu.

Hula hooping how-to:

  • Stand with one foot in front of the other with knees slightly bent.
  • Place the hoop on your lower back, parallel to the floor to start spinning. Spin
  • To keep the hoop spinning, shift your weight between your legs, moving your hips forward and backward


Looking for a reason to stay active? Register for our upcoming Walk to Cure Arthritis 5K, where you can help raise funds for research, resources and a cure. Much more than just a walk event, it’s something even bigger than arthritis itself! Register today!

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