When we think of hula hooping, we think of a plastic kid's toy but there is so much more to it than that, as I discovered when I started researching.
It is a fabulous form of exercise for both kids and adults, you can spin hoops around your waist, legs, arms or neck; do tricks, roll them and there is even a whole hula hooping community out there in the world - with a full-length documentary movie about them, and have you ever heard of World Hoop day? I'll get to that soon! But first let's look at where it all began!
The History of the Hula Hoop
Hula hooping is an ancient practice - thought to have been popularised by the ancient Greeks. Formerly made from wood, metal, vines, bamboo or other natural materials, they were used not only as a children's toy, but also as a fitness device. Native American Indians and Eskimos used to use hoops to roll along and use as a target to practice for hunting by throwing and shooting arrows through them.
Hula hooping became popular in Britain in the 14th century as a children's toy. British sailors first saw Hula dancing in Hawaii around the same time, and with the similarity in movement - the name 'hula hoop' was born.
The Modern Hula Hoop
The first plastic hula hoop was made in Australia, back in 1957, and sold in Coles department stores. They couldn't produce enough to keep up with the demand. A year later plastic hula hoops were marketed in the USA and the craze took off with millions sold.
It's great exercise
As a form of exercise, hula hooping has many benefits. As with any kind of exercise and movement, it increases the blood flow to your brain, making you more alert, gets your heart rate up and increases your energy levels. Hooping also increases spinal flexibility, strengthens those all important core muscles, improves co-ordination, balance and even massages your internal organs and intestines as it circles your waist - which is said to work like acupressure on key points, releasing blocked 'chi'!!.
So what are you waiting for - go grab your hula hoop! I had to re-learn as an adult how to do it! I was surprised to find it's actually a rocking motion rather than a circular motion that you need to keep the hoop rotating. Oh and the ideal size for a hoop should be - up to somewhere between your stomach and your chest when it's resting on the ground. I can do it with my kids hoops - but maybe it's easier with one the right size!
Whatever you believe about the benefits of hula hooping - it certainly is a fun form of exercise - what more encouragement do you need??