Hula Hoop Facts: Everything You Need To Know About This Cool Toy

Oluwatosin Michael
Nov 03, 2023 By Oluwatosin Michael
Originally Published on Mar 23, 2022
Girl and boy with hula hoop playing at the park
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.8 Min

A hoop is a kind of toy that has been around for thousands of years although the modern-day Hula Hoop was invented in 1958.

They have always been much popular among children. But, it turns out that hula hooping is not just for kids; in fact, it’s a great workout for people of all ages.

Even though the modern version of the toy was inspired by Australian bamboo hoops, the first evidence of the existence of this toy dates back to 500 BC. The plastic ones, on the other hand, that are so popular nowadays, were introduced by the Wham-O toy company in 1958.

The size and materials of hula hoops vary.

For example, traditional hula hoops are made of rattan, willow, stiff grasses, and grapevines, while modern ones use plastic tubing. Similarly, hoops made for adults tend to have a diameter of 40 in (1 m), while the ones made for kids measure about 28 in (71 cm).

In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about hula hooping, including the history of the toy and some of the health benefits. We will also provide tips on how to get started hula hooping. So drop your hula hoop over your head and get ready to have some fun!

The Origin Of The Hula Hoop

As already mentioned, the origin of this toy dates back to 500 BC. Let's see some more facts related to their origins.

The journey of the hula hoop begins in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. People used hoops for similar reasons that we do: as a form of exercise that people performed in gymnasiums and while dancing, and as a toy. However, Eskimo peoples used them to fish. And around the Middle Ages, children played with hoops in Britain. 

In the 1500s, hooping reached the Americas, as the first hoops were used in storytelling dances. They used the hoops as props to create different dynamic and static shapes that represented various storytelling elements, symbols, and animals. It is said that this dance form required multiple hoops and was performed by a single dancer.

Hula dancing, on the other hand, was first witnessed by British sailors in Hawaii in the 1800s. The similarities of body movements required both in hooping and hula dancing led to the name 'hula hoop'.

Over the years, hula hoops have undergone various changes; the wooden and metal hoops of earlier times have been replaced by the modern ones made of plastic tubing.

In the late '50s, the Wham-O toy company of Southern California applied for a trademark for the name 'Hula Hoop' and successfully received the rights shortly after.

The company started manufacturing the product in 1958 and is said to have sold 25 million units within the first four months. The number increased to a whopping 100 million by the company's second year of sales.

To date, the Wham-O company remains one of the most successful manufacturers of the product and also sells other games and toys (Hacky Sack, Frisbee, Slip-n-Slide, and the Boogie Board).

At present hula hooping is more than just a game. It has become an art form across various cultures, and can be seen almost in every gym and home. as a form of exercise and play.

The Hula Hoop In Popular Culture

Like most other ancient practices, hula hooping has become a part of various popular cultures over time. Here are some facts on how and when hula hooping became popular.

Hula hoops received their first huge television coverage on September 6, 1958, when Georgia Gibbs, the famous singer, performed 'The Hula Hoop Song' on 'The Ed Sullivan Show' (U.S. TV). It competed against four other songs produced in the wake of this vogue and became Georgia Gibbs's last US top-40 hit.

In the same year, hula hoops found their way into another song titled 'The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)' by Alvin and the Chipmunks.

In 1994, the Coen Brothers (Ethan and Joel Coen) released a comedy film on the origin of hula hoops. The movie was called 'The Hudsucker Proxy' and told the fictional story where a mall clerk invents hula hoops.

One of our favorite Disney characters, Wall-E, was also seen swinging a hula hoop around itself in a small clip released by Disney during the production of the film. Also, the Wii Fit game franchise designed an aerobic minigame featuring hula hoops.

Finally, Keller Williams, a popular artist, honored the hula hoops by composing the song 'Hula Hoop To The Loop'. Another British artist called Banksy painted a picture of a young girl hula hooping with a bicycle tire in 2020. The painting is known as 'Hula Hooping Girl' and has become an important example of popular street art.

Kids throw colorful hoops on cones while competing

Hula Hoops For Fitness

It is not a secret that hula hooping acts as a great workout and can contribute to your physical fitness when practiced properly. So, let's see in what other ways these cultural dance props help us achieve a better physique.

Nowadays, people have become more concerned about body shape and weight. Many want to maintain a lean figure and work continuously towards that end.

Meanwhile, it has been proven in various reports that hula hooping can be extremely beneficial if you add it to your workout while following a balanced diet.

It is also said that hula hooping is as effective in burning calories as some aerobic activities like swing dancing, belly dancing, and salsa. According to some reports, a 30-minute hooping session can, on average, burn 200 calories for men and 165 calories for women.

Consequently, other studies on the benefits of hula hooping have been conducted over the years, and it is seen that this exercise works like a charm when it comes to reducing inches around the hips and waist.

Another study, carried out by 13 women using weighted hula hoops for six weeks, showed that by performing this exercise people can lose 0.55 in (1.4 cm) around the hips and 1.3 in (3.4 cm) around the waist.

Hula hooping is also considered to be a great cardiovascular workout that improves oxygen flow in your body and keeps your lungs and heart healthy. Apart from that, practicing it regularly also improves your cholesterol levels, reduces stress, and lowers your chances of getting diabetes and heart disease.

Practicing hula hooping requires strong core muscles (because you need to move your hips relentlessly). So, if you are concerned about your abdominals, hips, and oblique muscles and want to improve their strength, you should learn hula hooping and practice it daily.

Lastly, hula hooping is also known for improving your balance. The American Council of Exercise reported that all exercises, including hula hooping, that require you to maintain stability and posture, improve your balance. So, by practicing this activity, you can improve your posture, gain better control of your body, and perform other exercises deftly.

Hula-Hoop FAQs

What benefits does a hula hoop have?

Like other cardio exercises, it increases oxygen flow in the body, improves cholesterol levels, keeps the lungs healthy, and reduces the risks of diabetes and heart diseases.

How did the hula hoop get its name?

When British sailors first saw the hula dance in Hawaii in the 1800s, they were mesmerized by the resemblance this dance form had with playing with hoops. It is said hula hoops were named after this dance.

What are hula hoops made from?

Greek and Roman ones were often metal, while other traditional hoops were made of willow, grapevines, and grasses. The Australian ones were a wooden version made of bamboo, and these were said to have inspired the inventors of the modern plastic Hula Hoop.

How was hula hooping invented?

There is no substantial information available on how these hoops were invented. But its origin dates back to 500 BCE, when a child or adult would spin the hoop (or 'wheel') around their body.

Who invented the hula dance?

The dance form was invented and developed by the Polynesians who originally settled in the Hawaiian Islands.

How much did a Hula Hoop cost in the 1950s?

When the Wham-O company started manufacturing plastic Hula Hoops in 1958, they fixed the price at $1.98 per unit.

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Written by Oluwatosin Michael

Bachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology

Oluwatosin Michael picture

Oluwatosin MichaelBachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology

With a Bachelor's in Microbiology from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Oluwatosin has honed his skills as an SEO content writer, editor, and growth manager. He has written articles, conducted extensive research, and optimized content for search engines. His expertise extends to leading link-building efforts and revising onboarding strategies. 

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