by Ilona Udvari
With the onset of warmer weather, we are all dying to get outside, shed our layers of cold-weather clothing, and kick up our heels a bit. The parts of us that were once well hidden are begging for sunlight, and the secrets of our winter and holiday indiscretions are soon to be front-page news. I used to be disheartened considering the number of crunches it was likely to take to get me looking and feeling good for summer, but now I just smile. Though not for lack of trying, I could never sustain a love affair with ab work, but I started hula hooping several years ago, and not only was it easy to tone up, I could hardly wait to do it!
The history of hooping pre-dates the emergence of the beloved Wham-o hula-hoop of the 1950s, by several thousands of years. But its evolution has taken us from the small, lightweight child’s toy into a whole new era. Such children’s hoops are often the perpetrators misleading us all to believe we cannot, and never could, hula-hoop. But times have changed, and adult-size weighted hoops are available for a full range of activities from weight loss to hoop dancing. A long list of health benefits has also made hooping grow quickly in popularity. But the greatest lure by far is the fun! Imagine the idea of looking forward to your workouts. What a difference it makes in your success!
Hooping can burn up to 100 calories per ten-minute session and up to 400–600 in an hour. It’s a great low impact, aerobic, cardiovascular workout that melts away unwanted fat at the core and tightens the stomach. Plus building up your core muscles also helps you to burn more calories. It’s a win-win situation!
The new larger and heavier hoop is easier to control and a greater benefit in toning the body. In fact, it sculpts and builds muscle in the glutes, back, thighs, hips, legs, knees, as well as in the abdomen. This in turn increases your range of motion, flexibility, and balance. In doing so, one can actually prevent back problems.
If you’ve had commitment issues in the past, fear not. You can see the benefits from working as little as ten minutes a day using a weighted hoop. But believe me, stopping after ten minutes will be the farthest thing from your mind. Hooping helps to reduce and manage stress, and it generates a magnificent feeling of well-being. Devotees will tell you that it works as a powerful means of meditation to calm one’s self, clear one’s thoughts, and process the day’s stresses.
As we hula, learn tricks and routines, and have fun playing, the hoop gently massages our vital organs and improves their integral function, particularly those in the digestive system. There is an increase of blood flow to the brain, oxygenizing the blood and increasing vital energy. It can be as equally reviving as a short nap! Dopamine is also released by the body, improving our ability to focus and raising our attention level. And if that isn’t enough, studies show that the gray matter of our brain also expands and improves.
Hula hooping can be done by people of all ages, genders, and shapes. It’s a fantastic activity to do with kids and encourages healthy lifestyle choices. Whether you are reliving the simple joys of childhood or cashing in on the amazing health and exercise benefits, you will find yourself smiling and laughing. So buddy-up, get a hoop you like, remove breakables from the hoop area, and get fit and stay fit! It just takes a little practice and the right equipment.