Hula hooping is a great aerobic activity for all ages. Adding hula hoop exercises to your workout routine can tone and strengthen muscles while burning calories and increasing flexibility.

The hula hoop gained popularity in the 1950′s in both the United States and the United Kingdom but its roots trace back much farther. The art of twirling the hoop actually dates back to Ancient Greece and Egypt where hoops had been made out of natural materials like wood, bamboo, and grasses. The plastic toy we are most familiar with was introduced to the public in 14th┬áCentury Great Britain. Today, fitness or sports hoops are made from rubber foam, plastics, and/or covered with nylon.

Benefits of hula hooping.

Anytime you add another level of physical activity to your routine, your body benefits. Hula hooping increases your heart rate allowing your body to burn more calories, which in turn can lead to weight loss. To find your target heart rate for the best workout, use the heart rate calculator available online at a site like healthline.com.

Hula hooping can also improve coordination, circulation, and flexibility. It tones, trims, and strengthens core torso muscles. Strong core muscles help maintain posture, avoid back injuries, and improve balance. Strong core muscles are important to overall physical performance. Hula hooping is not limited to working only the midsection. It is also an effective exercise for sculpting those hard to define upper arms.

How to hula hoop.

To work the core or the midsection of your body, stand with one foot in front of each other. This is a stronger stance than with your feet side by side. Place the hoop over your head with it resting against the back of your waist. Gently push it to begin a rotation around your waist. You may have to experiment to determine which direction is most natural.

Shift your weight back and forth to keep the hoop spinning. Rotating your hips to spin the hoop will not help; you want to find a rhythm of weight shifting from front and back foot. Do not be discouraged if it stops spinning and slides down to the ground. Keep repeating the process until you find your rhythm. After some practice, even if you can’t maintain more than a dozen or so rotations, you will be able to “catch” the hoop before it slides down and restart without missing a beat. Need a bit more help? Try a hula hooping classes at your local fitness centers or watch an instructional video online.

For an aerobic workout, keep the hoop spinning for three, ten minute sets. On average, fitness instructors state that hula hooping can burn up to 100 calories in ten minutes. A 30 minute hula hoop routine has also been equated to burn approximately the same amount of calories as a medium impact aerobic class.

Before you begin any new fitness routine, be sure to consult with your physician.

Different types of hoops.

Fitness or sports hoops are different from the plastic hoops found in toy stores. Sports hoops are generally weighted and constructed from rubber foam or nylon coated plastics. They also are available in a variety of sizes. When choosing a hoop consider the following. The lighter the hoop, the more energy needed to make it spin, resulting in a more aerobic workout. The heavier the hoop, the less energy needed to make it spin, resulting in a longer time getting to a fat-burning level. Ron Klint of Canyon Hoops states on Hooping.org that he recommends the beginning hoopster choose a hoop 32 to 45 inches in diameter and that weighs between one to two pounds. This hoop will work well for all types of hooping and fitness levels.

Choosing a weighted hoop can help with muscle building but a too-heavy hoop can result in bruising throughout the mid-section. Sport or fitness hoops can be purchased in sporting goods stores or online and vary in price from around $25 and on up for a customized hoop. Child-size hoops are also available.

If you are just beginning, try purchasing a large toy hoop from a retailer for under $10. Give it a few spins and see how much fun working out can be.

Hula hooping is a fun alternative cardio and core strengthening workout that will fit into both novice and advanced routines.