Additional findings from the Waterloo study:
Calorie expenditure during normal use varied from 300 to 420 kcal/hour: higher for inexperienced users and when the hoop was used in the “non-preferred” direction.
The participants lost on average 1.1 lbs, not reaching statistical significance, although two of the subjects lost over 6 lbs during the trial.
Muscle activation was significantly higher with the weighted hoop than with a traditional lightweight hula hoop. The comparison was made using a technique called electromyography, which calculates the impact of the hoop as percentage of the maximum voluntary contraction. Not surprisingly, the weighted hoop produced higher activity in every muscle compared to the conventional hoop. In the Rectus Abdominus (the main part of “the abs”), muscle activity was up to 70% higher.
The researchers also made a surprising finding regarding the distribution of fat on the body. On average, the subjects had slightly more subcutaneous fat (under the skin) after the study period, despite the fact that their waists were narrower, their muscles stronger and their bodies slightly lighter. One interpretation is that the amount of “belly fat” (visceral fat stored deeper in the abdomen) had decreased and redistributed itself, possibly as a result of the powerful “massage” effect from the hoop. This would be a sensational finding if proven to be true. Visceral fat is difficult to burn, and is linked to coronary disease, type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, and other obesity-related diseases. For now, the theory stands with a question mark until the researchers have done a follow-up study, for example, using bio-electrical impedance analysis to measure the amount of visceral fat before and after the trial period.
Reference: McGill, Stuart M, Cambridge, Edward DJ, Andersen, Jordan T. "A Six-Week Trial of Hula Hooping Using a Weighted Hoop: Effects on Skinfold, Girths, Weight and Torso Muscle Endurance." Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 29(5)/1279–1284. Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, Department of Kinesiology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.