Whether on a crowded Eastern seaboard boardwalk, a sunny California ocean promenade or a meandering walkway in Des Moines, Iowa, if there are long stretches of smooth pavement, you will find in-line skaters wending their way gracefully, their fast-moving rhythmic motion leaving joggers and cyclists in the dust. The smooth gliding movement may appear effortless, yet rollerblading is one of the most challenging cardiovascular activities around.
Cardiovascular Exercise and Muscle Action
Cardiovascular exercise is marked by rhythmic aerobic muscle action that demands oxygen to regenerate adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, the source of muscular contraction. The ongoing demand for oxygen increases the speed and depth of respiration and makes the your pump faster and harder to deliver oxygen-rich blood to your working muscles. The greater the size and number of muscles involved in an exercise, the greater the demand on your cardiovascular system.
Rollerblading gives the large muscles of the lower body an amazing workout, their perpetual contraction placing a substantial demand on your cardiovascular system for a steady supply of oxygen. The abductors of your outer thigh, the adductors of your inner thigh, the quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus and the gastrocnemius of your calf are all active participants.
Exercises like rollerblading that require you to continually correct your balance require stabilizing action by your core muscles to reestablish your center of gravity, making in-line skating an excellent exercise for your abs. While the large muscles of your upper body are not directly involved in locomotion, they participate to a lesser extent as stabilizers.
Because rollerblading recruits so many large muscles in an ongoing rhythmic fashion, the oxygen and energy demands are high. According to Harvard Medical School, rollerblading burns between 400 to 700 calories per hour, depending on body weight. The smooth gliding motion of rollerblading reduces impact, placing less stress on joints than many other types of cardio.
Like any other sport, there is a learning curve to mastering in-line skating skills like starting, stopping, locomotion technique and balance. Getting a lesson or two before lacing up will help you master skills more quickly and may save you embarrassment and potential injury from falling.
High-quality skates with good fit and safety equipment including a helmet, elbow and knee pads, and wrist supports are all recommended.
To maximize the benefits of in-line skating, establish and maintain repetitive motion. Short sequences of skating interrupted by long periods of coasting will not have the same training effect as perpetual motion.
By Michelle Matte