Ask anyone above the age of 50 if they ever played with hula hoops in their childhood and the answer will almost certainly be yes. After a lengthy absence from backyards and playgrounds, this time-honoured toy is enjoying a big revival in its fortunes, with even grown-ups now recognising its potential as a fun form of physical exercise. Various styles are again on sale in leading department stores, open-air bazaars and even fresh-produce markets and the renewed popularity of "hooping" has seen a surge in the number of competitions organised across the country. Some contests test individual ability - the traditional skill being, of course, to keep the hoop rotating freely around one's waist for as long as possible - while others reward teamwork in synchronised group events. Some contestants are even upping the ante by hooping while jogging.
Traditionally, hula hoops were made from various types of supple wood, bamboo or vines like rattan but these natural materials have since been largely replaced by plastic tubing, which better lends itself to mass production. Modified designs are now making an appearance, too, with larger and weighted device finding a market.
While whirling a hoop can be beneficial to fitness levels, muscle tone and one's general state of health, certain ground rules must be followed in order to avoid the possibility of injury. Here are some tips from Amorn Kimnguan, a health scientist from the Physical Activity and Health Division at the Department of Health.
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