Is ice-skating good exercise? Are you wondering if you should head to the rink for your workout? Below you will find the benefits of ice skating in terms of mental and physical health.
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Summary - Is ice skating good exercise?
If you are looking to vary your fitness program, you should consider ice skating for its many benefits. It is great exercise.
Spending a couple of hours skating offers some great benefits to improve balance, joint flexibility, mental health, muscle mass and motor coordination (amongst others).
Plus if you don't jump or spin, this is a low impact cardio activity that suits all ages and many conditions.
And you can wear figure skates or hockey skates, the benefits are similar. But if you are wondering which ones to choose as a beginner, head to this article.
Of course, always check with your doctor before practicing a new physical activity.
#1 - The Skating Happiness Boost
All workouts are a great way to relieve stress. The physical activity releases endorphins.
But ice skating brings much more than that. It has special benefits compared to other sports that, in my biased opinion, make it one of the greatest sports to enjoy. I call it the skating happiness boost. Those are:
- The boost in self-confidence from learning to master the balance. You are being thrown out of your walking comfort zone, and, mastering a completely new way of moving is very satisfying
- The boost in pleasure from gliding over the ice. It is like no other feeling (well a little bit like skiing or roller blading to be honest). The wind on your face and body and as you move faster and faster, it makes you focus on the present. But be warned, the feeling is addictive.
#2 - It improves Balance - One of the great benefits of ice skating
When learning to skate, you have to train your body and mind to balance on a thin blade while traveling across a slippery surface.
Ice skating is a great workout that helps you engage many muscles, improving your control of them so as to find balance.
As you work to develop your balance on your skates, you’re strengthening specific muscles and tendons in your feet and ankles. This benefit of improved balance carries over off-ice.
As you glide on 2 thin blades, and later on only one, your ability to balance will increase practice after practice.
#3 - It improves Motor Coordination
Ice skating is also a great work out for the brain.
You whole body has to move as one if you don't want to lose balance: your feet and legs of course, but also the position of your arms, torso, neck, head and where you are looking. It engages every part of your body to control the movement.
This activity triggers pathways in your brain, creating connections. And they will stay open after practice.
This improved motor coordination is studied to see if it could help people facing Parkinson's disease (for example, the research at the University of Lethbridge)
#4 - It increases Joints Flexibility - Health benefits of ice skating
Ice skating is also recognized for improving joints flexibility. Skating is even said by some to be more beneficial than cycling and running, because it works on many more joints and muscles, and is low impact.
The constant movement of joints without massive impact helps indeed strengthen the ligaments and connective tissue around the joints and produce synovial fluid to keep them lubricated.
If you don't jump, ice skating workouts are low impact. So, it is a great way to get physical exercise for people with joint pain.
#5 - It builds muscles & improves posture
Ice skating also builds up the leg and abdominal muscles.
Those are the muscles that benefit the most when skating (even at leisure pace) - they increase in mass and are strengthened and toned:
- pelvic floor muscles (being stretched in multiple dimensions which is good for women in perimenopause who have stress incontinence),
- back muscles (great for people with some back issues),
- gluteus maximus.
- but also, the arms and more!
Some even say that ice skating also provides anaerobic benefits such as those of light weightlifting exercises because of the constant state of contraction of the muscles.
The balancing on a thin blade of metal makes the skater contract all the muscles of the abdomen and the legs. The result is stronger core muscles which are essential for a good posture.
#6 - It increases Cardio Health and Endurance
Like any workout, ice skating gets blood pumping and the heart rates up. So, it is great for cardiovascular health.
But the advantage of ice skating over other cardio workouts is that it is low impact (if you don't jump). The consistent effort of stroking, while using your arms to balance yourself, will increase your heart rate. Even if you are just in a recreational setting, simply skating around the rink, it is evaluated to be similar to walking up a hill or light jogging.
And because you keep turning around the rink for a long period of time, contracting muscles and elevating your heart rate, you are building endurance.
Your legs are constantly in motion. The longer you skate, the more you’ll improve your endurance.
Biomechanically, it is considered to combine some benefits of running and swimming.
#7 - It helps with Weight Management
Of course, like any sport, ice skating helps with weight management when combined with a healthy diet.
The advantage is that, if you are overweight, the low impact of ice skating will not damage your articulations.
Since it increases you heart rate, you might be wondering how many calories you are burning while skating. There are big variations is estimates: between 200 and 650 per hour. It is hard to identify as it depends on your weight and how much of an effort you are doing for balance and speed.
How to stay safe
Of course, to be able to enjoy all those benefits, you must be ice skating in good condition.
Skates in good condition
First, you need to wear skates in good condition:
- The boot is still strong enough
- The blades must have been sharpened
- You are tying your skates properly (articles to be published)
Wear proper equipment
Wear appropriate clothing that keeps you warm and doesn't hinder your movements.
It is a good idea to wear gloves in order to keep warm.
If your balance is really not good, you can wear protection pads for your first few sessions until you feel comfortable.
Take it as a workout
A lot of people go ice skating as a leisure activity and don't take is as a workout, and it is a long one!
Therefore, they do not engage in the proper acts to take care of their body.
When going ice skating you should:
- Warm up before
- Bring a bottle of water to hydrate during the session
- Stretch after.
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