Forget horizontal situps, and take your belly-flattening workout vertical with a hula hoop. Stand up with a sports hula hoop for a fun exercise you will look forward to every day. The hoops are not the ones from your childhood. Sport hoops are larger and may or may not be weighted to challenge all your core muscles.
Sport hoops are often referred to as weighted hoops. The hula hoops are large in diameter, usually ranging between 37 and 45 inches. The adult-sized hoops are heavier than children's hoops, but some hoops add more weight. Hoops can weigh between one and four pounds. You can buy hoops at sporting good stores or make your own. The height of the hoop should reach between your navel and chest when one side of the hoop is resting on the floor. The larger hoop size is easier to keep up because it will spin more slowly.
If you're storing excess fat around your midsection, one way to lose weight and flatten your belly is to burn calories. The American Council on Exercise studied the calorie-burning benefits of weighted hooping and in the January 2011 issue of "ACE Certified News" said that you'll burn approximately seven calories a minute. These seven calories add up if you are trying to burn fat and flatten your belly. Although you cannot spot reduce, or tell your body from where to burn fat, if you hoop for 30 minutes, you'll quickly burn 210 calories and be on your way to a flatter tummy.
Another way the sports hoop leads to a flatter belly is by tightening your abdominal muscles. When you spin the hoop around your waist, your abdominal muscles contract to keep the hoop elevated. Your hips and waist move in a push/pull motion, with a slight side-to-side sway to propel the hoop. Every core muscle is involved; through the multiple contractions and relaxations, every muscle becomes stronger. Stronger belly muscles result in a tighter core. When your core is tighter, your abs appear flatter.
Waist hooping may take a few tries, but as with all worthwhile activities, your efforts will be rewarded. Stand in the center of the hoop. Hold onto the hoop in your hands at waist height. Position one foot in front of the other. Rotate your torso and the hoop to one side and then quickly push the hoop in the opposite direction. Your hips move forward and backward, and you can rock your weight between your front and back foot if needed. Feel when the hoop passes over your front and push forward and do the same toward the back. If the hoop begins to fall, squat and shimmy your hips quickly from side to side, or turn in a small circle in the same direction the hoop spins. If you're still having trouble, switch your foot position and toss the hoop the opposite way.
A mother of two and passionate fitness presenter, Lisa M. Wolfe had her first fitness article published in 2001. She is the author of six fitness books and holds an Associate of Arts in exercise science from Oakland Community College. When not writing, Wolfe is hula-hooping, kayaking, walking or cycling.