7 reasons to pick up a hula hoop

With gyms expensive, weather unpredictable and home-based sports equipment often both space and time-consuming, the humble hula hoop could provide a low-cost alternative to your fitness needs.

We look at how this hooping - often associated with childhood - could transform your waistline, heighten your fitness levels and put a smile on your face to boot!

1. It's easy

Couldn't hoop as a child? Or finding it hard to begin? It may be that you have the wrong hoop for your size. Ideally, your hula-hoop should reach your belly-button when you rest it on the floor in front of you - having the right hoop for your size works wonders! If you're still struggling, there are many online tutorials which will help you to develop and improve your technique, one wiggle at a time.

2. It's free

Even though you may have to fork out for a hoop in the first place, after this initial small investment there's no need to pay for exercise classes or gym membership; simply find a space in your living room or garden and hoop away! That said, many gyms are now offering hula-hoop classes if you wish to attend from time-to-time to improve your skill and enjoy a more social experience.

3. It slims your waist

Fed up of those love handles? The fact that regular 'hoopers' working their stomach muscles vigorously means they tend to have strong, toned midriffs. In addition, hooping burns visceral fat - the type that of that fat that's stored within the abdominal cavity and which can be very harmful for health.

4. It's a great cardiovascular workout

Hooping burns around 400 calories per hour - around the same as jogging, making it great for heart health and overall fitness levels. It may also help by working 'inner muscles' in the stomach, thought to boost your metabolism.

5. It improves co-ordination

As your hooping improves, you may want to develop a few tricks, such as moving the hoop up and down your waist, or hooping with your arm. Such exercises improve co-ordination, as well as providing additional challenge.

6. It's flexible

As well as improving your physical flexibility and strength, hula-hooping is also the ultimate flexible workout time-wise. You can do a few minutes here or there, or an hour non-stop, depending on your schedule. Just ten minutes a day can have an impact on your overall body and fitness levels.

7. It's fun!

From kids in a playground to women hoping to tone their midriff, it's hard to hoop without a smile. Hula-hooping is challenging and engaging, as well as being great fun. Plus, as with all exercise, you'll release important feel-good endorphins.

With so many benefits, and so much opportunity for fun, perhaps it's time to give this humble plastic circle a good spin.

Gillian Harvey is a freelance writer, qualified teacher and mother-of-five young children, currently living in France. Follow her on twitter: @GillPlusFive


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