Like other retro fitness trends including hula hooping or jumping on a trampoline, rollerblading is back. More than a fun activity for a sunny afternoon, rollerblading is a great way to exercise without even realizing you’re working out. If you’re feeling nostalgic for a roller rink and want to roll up on the revived fad, you’ll be happy to know there’s tons of benefits for your health. But before you don a pair of skates and glide down the street like a fearless teen, here’s what you should know about rollerblading.
Is rollerblading good exercise?
As a form of cardio exercise, rollerblading—a.k.a. inline skating—raises your heart rate, not unlike a dance class or the aforementioned trampolining.
Inline skating is also good for building strength endurance, especially in your thighs and glutes. “Rollerblading actually stimulates a tremendous amount of muscular development,” says Matt Scarfo, a New York City based personal trainer. “The skating stride puts load on the quads, glutes, hamstrings, and inner thigh muscles that aren’t stimulated during similar exercises like walking. As skating also relies on balance, there’s also development of the abdominals and deep core muscles that are responsible for keeping someone upright and stable.”
In addition, rollerblading is low impact, making it a good option for anyone who doesn’t want to put too much stress on their joints. “It’s great for beginners or people who might struggle with the impact of running,” Scarfo says. “But people who are new to rollerblading should ease into the exercise.”
Is rollerblading dangerous?
Just like other sports that require balance such as biking, skiing, or snowboarding, rollerblading is a riskier sport compared to other low-impact bodyweight activities like walking or using an elliptical machine. Wrist injuries are common because many people attempt to break a fall by sticking their arms out, as well as knee, leg, ankle, or elbow scrapes and sprains caused by unintended falls.
To protect yourself, invest in proper safety attire, like a helmet, wrist guards, and knee pads before heading outside. For a helmet that’s both protective and stylish, try the Retrospec Outdoor Master Helmet. It comes in a variety of colors and in sizes small, medium, and large to accommodate heads with circumferences of 18 to 24 inches. The Retrospec helmet has 4.6 stars and more than 14,700 reviews on Amazon. Reviewers say it is comfortable, easy to adjust, and fashionable.
To pad your extremities, consider this set of wrist guards, elbow pads, and knee pads from JBM, which has 4.6 stars on Amazon and more than 15,000 reviews. Reviewers say they felt comfortable to wear and some claim they tumbled while rollerblading and these pads allowed them to walk away unscathed.
Where can you buy rollerblades online?
For example, the Papaison Adjustable Inline Skates are a well-reviewed option available at Amazon. Their wheels light up when you skate, which in addition to being a fun extra feature, can be useful if you’re skating at night—the equivalent of a bike light or reflective piece of clothing. This pair of rollerblades also comes with a matching pair of padded socks, an extra brake pad, and a carrying bag so you can easily take your skates on the go.
How and where can you start rollerblading?
Once you get your gear, you’re ready to go! You can start rollerblading on the sidewalk, a bike path, a park, or a nearby parking lot around your neighborhood to get the hang of things. Wherever you start, it’s best to avoid uneven pavement, hills, or wooden boardwalks until you can move smoothly and steadily.
If you’ve rollerbladed or skated before, even as a child, you probably remember the basic movement. From a standing position, push your feet out at a 45-degree angle like you’re kicking the pavement away. To ensure proper form, you should assume an athletic stance, slightly squatted with your core engaged, and pump your arms opposite your legs as you shift your weight back and forth.
If you’re brand new to any type of skating, you may want to find your footing by putting your rollerblades on in a grassy area and practicing walking in the skates first to get a feel for how to balance. Once you graduate to rolling, choosing a place with a railing or a building that you can skate alongside will give you something to reach out for to keep your balance. You could even skate in an indoor hallway, as long as you aren’t worried about marring the floor. You’ll also want to make sure you feel comfortable stopping, so practice using your skate’s brake pad before you actually need it. Avoid streets with lots of car traffic or stop lights, and stick to sidewalks and bike paths when you can. Once you feel comfortable in your skates, take it to the pavement, get in your athletic stance, and get rolling. With a little bit of practice, you’ll be skating like a pro in no time.
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