In the pantheon of sports, skating checks in somewhere in the middle of the hierarchy – interesting, highly social and probably a good workout, but not glamorous like car racing or basketball. For this reason, it takes a little more than just celebrity inspiration for folks to dust out the blades. For many of us, however, the choice of sports is not simply about its glamour quotient, but also the possibility of playing it in our backyard or neighborhood, and getting health benefits aplenty while doing so. Keeping these in mind, we have taken on the role of your friendly local physiotherapist to give some quick advice on whether you should go skating, how much is right and how this helps you.
Question – What’s happening to my body when I skate?
Answer – You may have seen skating included in the list of cardio workouts, and this is with good reason. Skating works out the heart, allowing medium speed skaters to reach heart rates of about 140 to 160 bpm(beats per minute). Push yourself to high speeds and you can clock 180bpm. While pushing yourself to 180 beats early on may not be a great idea, 140-160 can easily be achieved.
On a muscular level, this cardio workout becomes an aerobic workout. Your abs, glutes, thighs, calves and other lower limb muscles are constantly adjusting your weight, balance, and changes of pace and direction. This constant workload pushes these muscles to greater effort, thereby building up endurance in the long run.
Lastly, it is a fallacy that skating is only a lower body workout. In reality, as you twist and turn on skates, your arms and abdominal muscles are also getting a workout, albeit one that is lower than your lower body muscles.
Question – How does all this help?
Answer – For starters, muscle training and heart training allow for building up of coordination and balance. These are important for a variety of activities, including competitive sports. In fact, many athletes use skating as a cross-training exercise during their offseasons or when they want to take a break from their regular sports.
Then there are the actual muscles themselves. As the workout progresses, the muscles become leaner and fitter, allowing you to get more out of them even as they give you a more healthy and muscular appearance.
In the long term, skating has some less visible benefits as well. For instance, skating being an inherently social and friendly workout tends to release endorphins and positive hormones. Over time, these can improve mental health among folks who suffer from stress and depression. Also, given that the workout helps improve body metabolism, it is also seen as a means of reducing risks of type-2 diabetes.
Question – But does it help me lose weight?
Answer – Yes, most definitely it does. The muscular workout allows a 190 pounds man to burn about 10 calories a minute, reaching up to 148 calories per hour on skates and up to 160 on rollerblades. For a 150 pound woman, the burn rate is 9 calories a minute, with hourly burn adjusted accordingly. If you’re constrained on time, a 30 minutes session per day will lose you a hefty 1250 calories per week. These findings have been confirmed by multiple sources, including the folks at the University of Konstanz.
Of course, you must remember that a number of calories burnt depends on the BMI (Body Mass Index) of the person, which is a fancy way of saying that the more overweight you are, the more you will burn. Over time, the workout’s main benefits shift from fat burn to muscle toning, giving you not just a flatter belly, but a more toned and ripped appearance.