Mercy Hula Hoops to Healthify

May 14, 2012

Healthy Hooping featuring M.C. Spookytooth

Supplemental Materials


By Mercy's Tina Rockhold

If 40-year-old Shaquille O’Neal, weighing in at 325 pounds and topping out at 7-foot-1-inch, can join in the nation’s hula hoop craze, so too can 38,000 Mercy co-workers across Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma for National Employee Health and Fitness Day, May 16.

“As a culture, it has completely dropped out of our brains that exercise can be fun. We have forgotten how important it is to have recess as adults,” said Dr. Lance Luria, Mercy’s health and wellness vice president and medical director. “We make sure to break out our long to-do lists every day but we forget to exercise and eat healthy. Without balance in our lives, everything gets out of whack and we become very unhealthy – physically, emotionally and spiritually.”

In an effort to bring back balance and have fun, Mercy co-workers will pick up hula hoops and get moving as they are “Hoopin’ to Healthify.” Nurses, doctors, surgeons, administrators and staff across Mercy’s four states will take part in hula-hoop obstacle courses, javelin throws, giant ring tosses and traditional hula hooping contests at the Olympic-like festivities. (Last year, co-workers did 1.3 million jumping jacks across Mercy for national fitness day.)

“The message is simple: get to hoopin’ or moving. Find something you like and make it a part of your routine whether it’s rock climbing, swimming, biking, bowling or running,” said Dr. Luria. “You only have one life to live, so live it to the fullest. Make every day count.”

Healthification, Mercy’s wellness program, is designed to encourage well-balanced, healthy lifestyles through nutrition, physical activity, emotional and spiritual wellness, and smoking cessation.

“As health care providers, we have a responsibility to model healthy lifestyle choices for a nation that is sedentary,” said Dr. Luria. “We must measure up to the same expectations we teach our patients and our communities.” 

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, over the next six years the nation’s rate of obesity will continue to grow at an alarming rate.

“We’re tipping the scales,” said Lynn Britton, president and CEO of Mercy. “Many of the states Mercy serves lead the nation in obesity. Sadly, our country’s youth are following in those footsteps. Through healthification and awareness, Mercy’s goal is to reverse the trend.”

To get everyone hoopin’, Rapper M.C. Spookytooth created a toe-tapping music video with Mercy co-workers hoopin’ to the beat.

According to the American Council on Exercise, although hula hooping is a low-impact workout, it’s possible to burn 200 calories in a 30-minute session. More reasons to pick up a hula hoop include:

  • It improves flexibility and balance, which reduces chances of injury in daily activities.
  • It’s a lot more fun than sit-ups or side-bends and still tones the midsection.
  • Regardless of a person’s level of fitness, it’s a challenging technique with real benefits.

“I haven’t hula hooped since grade school, but I encourage co-workers to join me, pick up a hoop and get moving,” said Britton. “Drop your inhibitions at the door. No hula experience is required – just a willingness to have fun.”

Mercy is the eighth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. and serves more than 3 million people annually. Mercy includes 31 hospitals, more than 200 outpatient facilities, 38,000 co-workers and 1,600 integrated physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. For more about Mercy, visit

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