Hula hooping: a RAW deal

I can’t remember where we were — the middle of Nebraska? the middle of Missouri? — but it was time to visit another rest stop. We’d been driving for a day and a half, a day and a half and twelve hundred miles of sitting with virtually no exercise. My body was starting to petrify, my mood was increasingly surly. Marcy hopped out, opened the rear hatch of the M5, rooted around for a moment, then emerged with the antidote.

A hula hoop.

Exercising on a road trip is an oft-discussed, little-acted-upon phenomenon. LizzyGMobile makes underappreciated videos (6 views as of yesterday) on the subject, and truckers’ forums touch on the topic from time to time. Yet a GetGoingNC/Google investigation revealed that no states appear to incorporate exercise into their rest areas, despite offering everything from snack bars to wifi, according to the Interstate Rest Area Guide.

Thus, it’s up to you to make your own RAW — rest area workout.

The trick is to get some movement going, to get the blood flowing, the muscles engaged, the back realigned — without conjuring a sweat that will stick with you to Topeka. That’s one reason we like hooping. A recent study by the American Council on Exercise found: “Hooping is an excellent form of exercise that compares pretty favorably with most other group classes” — boot-camp, step aerobics, cardio kickboxing — “in terms of heart rate and calorie burn.” (Read the entire study here.) Plus, while your gyrations may warrant a curious glance or two, unlike with a bout of rest stop cardio-kickboxing, you likely won’t get a visit from the rest stop SWAT team.

An even greater plus: the rhythmic nature of hula hooping is a great way to ease the stress of driving and dissipate a potential case of road rage. And there’s surprisingly little collateral sweat.

Hula hoop: Add it to your packing list this Labor Day weekend.

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