If you're not into extreme workouts, why not look into a fun fitness routine that allows you to play while you exercise? Enter the hula hoop -- a large plastic hoop that you swing around your waist as well as your arms, neck and legs. You might consider the hula hoop (sometimes misspelled as "hoola hoop") as merely a children’s pastime. Make no mistake, these days the hula hoop -- along with exercises and hula hoop fitness routines -- is recognized by health experts as an effective form of exercise.
A Blast from the Past
The humble hula hoop dates as far back as 5th century ancient Greece. You might see the misspelling of “hoola hoop” on occasion, but according to Wikipedia, the hula hoop’s name is derived from the similarities to the Hawaiian dance movements known as hula. 
In the late 50s, the world saw hula hoops become a craze in the United States when 100 million were sold in just two years. 
Today, hula hoops have made a comeback, and hula hooping – dancing with a hula hoop -- is now considered a sport. Competitions are held around the world, and hooping clubs have also emerged, making hula hooping a social activity.
The Hula Hoop as Exercise
Yes, you can get fancy and use more than one hoop. And you can use hoops in the dark with LED lights or even attempt to twirl hoops of fire. At some point, you might want to surpass the world record of simultaneously twirling 133 hoops at once.
But for a good workout, all you need is a single hula hoop. Spend just 30-minutes with a hula hoop workout and you'll burn approximately 200 calories. Don't have a half-hour to exercise? One medical expert suggested that just 10 minutes can be beneficial if you are adding the hula hoop to an existing fitness routine.
Disclaimer: As with all forms of exercise, check first with your doctor before beginning. The use of the hula hoop may not be appropriate for people with certain medical conditions and situations, such as back problems and pregnancy.
Using the hula hoop as exercise can benefit you both mentally and physically.
Indeed, doing something fun – something that doesn’t exactly feel like exercise can help to lift your mood.
Additionally, the movements that are required for you to keep the hula hoop moving around your waist contributes to strengthening your core as well as improving your flexibility and balance. Further, using a hula hoop can help to contribute to weight loss by giving you a fat-burning workout (heavier hula hoop, longer workout).
You can use your hula hoop for exercise practically anywhere you have adequate space – both indoors and outdoors. Just be sure that you have adequate space when indoors.
Hula hoop exercising does not require a lot of expensive, large equipment. Collapsible hula hoops that either twist into a smaller size or come a part into 4 or 6 pieces that you can easily reassemble add to the hula hoop’s convenient portability.
Once you get the hang of it, browse YouTube to learn how to use the hula hoop to exercise your arms and legs, or to learn various tricks.
First Things First – The Basics
To get started, let the hula hoop touch your back as you hold it with both hands. Stand with one foot slightly ahead of your other foot then give the hoop a quick push around your waist.
To keep the hula hoop up, shift your weight, or better yet, rotate your hips. Soon enough you’ll establish a rhythm as the hoop rotates around your waist. And, you’ll be working those core muscles!
Here’s a demo:
What and Where to Buy
If you are new to hula hoop exercises, you’ll want to get a hoop that’s right for you.
Note that hula hoops are not created equal. They come in different sizes, from about 20 inches in diameter to about 40 inches in diameter, which is the standard size for most adults. As mentioned above, hula hoops also come in collapsible styles, which make them great for travel.
You can buy a weighted adult-sized hula hoop for about $30.
Avoid buying the hula hoops you see in the toy section at retailers like Walmart and Target. These hula hoops are typically made for children and are too small, light and thin for adults. These smaller hoops are typically used for off-the-body tricks and will spin too fast around the waist of an adult. Instead, head to the sporting goods department or buy one online.
A hula hoop with a larger diameter allows for a slower rotation around your waist. Look for one that is weighted. You can buy weighted hula hoops online at Amazon, at sporting goods stores, or at hula hoop specialty stores like Hoopnotica. Look for a hula hoop that is a couple of inches above your belly button when the hoop is resting vertically on the floor.
You can even look for weighted hoops that are of a specific weight. For example, Amazon.com sells hula hoops that are 2 to 5 pounds. If you are a novice, begin with the lighter weight.
Here’s what to look for when buying a hula hoop.
How to Make a Hula Hoop
If you are a DIYer and don’t want to buy a hula hoop, for about 5 dollars, you can make your own out of PVC piping.
A hula hoop is a versatile and relatively inexpensive piece of exercise equipment. The hula hoop can be used as a stand alone exercise or as an add-on to your existing exercise routine. However you decide to fit a hula hoop into your life, in just 30 minutes a day, your hula hoop will give you a fun workout that will tone your core, improve your strength and get your heart pumping. Best of all you can do it indoors or outdoors, or while watching TV or listening to your favorite music.
Whether you spell it hoola hoop or hula hoop, slip your hula hoop around your waist and get twirling!