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Benefits of roller skating: does roller skating count as a workout?

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Roller skating is an aerobic workout that increases coordination and balance. This retro pastime doesn’t just look cool, it also leaves your body feeling great.

Tiktok is a cauldron of cool. It seems like there’s a new beauty or food trend taking off on the app everyday, and now its users are inspiring fitness trends.

Roller skating might conjure images of a 70s disco scene, but the retro pastime is making a comeback if Tiktok is to be believed. The app has videos on everything roller skating related, from tutorials on how to get started to scenic ride-alongs.

With the most popular videos garnering millions of views and thousands of re-shares and comments, it’s clear that this may be one of the most popular workouts to come out of lockdown.

Due to the unpredictable nature of Covid, people are adapting their fitness routines to include more outdoor options that don’t require government mandates to be enjoyed. As gyms teeter between open and shut, people are taking to public spaces to uncover new ways to stay fit. According to Annie Williams, a fitness trainer at OriGym, more and more people are opting to add new hobbies to their fitness routines. She says, “A lot of my clients who’d traditionally favour weight-training sessions have found innovative ways to keep fit until the gyms reopen.” And she’s personally seen a boom in “roller skating, running, and cycling since the start of the lockdown.”

WHAT ARE THE FITNESS BENEFITS OF ROLLER SKATING?

So, strapping on a pair of skates looks cool and could net you more followers on social media, but what can it do for your overall fitness? Experts say it’s more than you’d think.

Despite the languid nature of the movements in comparison to the traditional cardio of a HIIT workout or an interval run, roller skating is comparable when it comes to raising your heart rate. Ruth Stone, a qualified PT and spokesperson for sweatband.com says, “It’s an aerobic activity that’ll get your heart pumping and your oxygen circulating.”

Williams, explains: “It offers an effective full-body workout, because you’re working every muscle group in the body.” While it might look like a sequence of graceful glides, what many people don’t realise is that “roller skating is a sport which works a number of the muscles in the lower body simultaneously with some muscles in the upper body, too.”

How much of an aerobic boost you get, however, depends on your efforts. “The more energetic you are, the more you will boost your heart rate!” – much like any workout, Williams confirms.

ROLLER SKATING IS A FULL-BODY WORKOUT

Despite being a full-body workout, roller skating relies predominantly on the lower body to keep you moving and stable. After your first session, you can expect to feel the pull in your “quads, calf muscles, hip abductors, and hamstrings,” says Williams.

But, it’s not just your glutes and quads having all the fun, because your core plays a huge role in helping to coordinate your movements. According to Stone, it’s so taxing that you can expect to use “a lot more of your balance muscles than you would if you were just doing standard core exercises.”

As for the core muscles roller skating requires to look so effortlessly cool, Williams specifies, “The erector spinae in the back, abdominals and obliques.”

ROLLER SKATING IMPROVES AGILITY

It might sound a lot more intense as it looks, but roller skating may be worth the extra effort and DOMS.

Taking a turn round your local park with a pair of skates strapped on is “a really good way of reeducating your body to fulfil its natural reflexes.” says Ruth Stone. The PT further explains why, saying, “It’s a good mix of muscle challenges and mental challenges. You’re constantly thinking about how you’re moving, why you’re moving and where you’re going.”

This new level of mind-muscle connection can even be an asset in your other workouts. As you’re constantly thinking of how to remain upright, you’re engaging “your legs and glutes through powerful forward movements, as well as working your arms and core to maintain balance. All of these muscle groups are required for effective training in various other sports; from weight and powerlifting, to football, swimming, and even yoga,” says Williams.

HOW TO PREPARE FOR A ROLLER SKATING SESSION

Anything that requires supreme balance and coordination is going to call for a few falls. And according to Stone, “When we think we’re going to fall, the body’s instinct is to tense the muscles. So warming up is essential.” She insists, “If you don’t warm up, your joints don’t move as freely because they’re not as lubricated. So if you were to fall you’d be prone to worse injuries.”

The trainer suggests, “A good quad stretch, hamstring, and calf stretch are essential,” as these are the primary muscles your body relies on when roller skating.

But, don’t focus your preparatory stretches on your lower body, because when you’re roller skating, you’re using your entire body. Stone advises, “The shoulders will benefit from a good stretch. Give your back a nice release too as you will be working your core quite hard to balance.” For a simple upper body release, she says “lie in child’s pose”, to give your back and sides some relief.

To further prepare yourself for a foray into roller skating, Williams suggests you “build up your strength prior with bodyweight squats, split squats and ab exercises such as planks or leg raises.”

And one move in particular comes highly recommended. The trainer says: “Burpees are a great exercise to prepare yourself for roller skating as they build overall body strength and improve cardiovascular fitness, both of which will come in useful whilst you’re rollerskating!”

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Images: Getty and Instagram

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