Rollerblading has come a long way since you were a kid and scooting around the block on eight clunky wheels. Skates have evolved into aerodynamic blades that can help you torpedo down streets and streak past joggers plodding away on their own peds. Depending on how you skate, rollerblading can give you an intense workout that not only burns the fat but also strengthens and trims your thighs.
Strengthening the Lower Body
While running and cycling rely on the flexion and extension of your hips, knees and ankles, rollerblading works your hip adductors and abductors in a side-to-side motion. Envision traveling across a football field and doing a side shuffle from beginning to end. Compared to cycling, you don’t have a bicycle seat to rest your buttocks on. Your lower extremities must support your entire body weight. Also, your legs’ range of motion can alter quickly and dramatically. You may change direction, take short or long strides or even jump and spin. In contrast to running, you do have the luxury of gliding downhill when you need a breather.
If you want to slim down your thighs, you need not only a strengthening regimen for your legs but also fat-burning aerobic activity. Rollerblading can offer a rigorous cardio workout in which you can expend about 300 calories per half hour, according to “Babes on Blades: Drop Physical, Mental and Spiritual Flab Through Inline Skating” by Suzan Davis. While short, rapid bursts of blading will tap into your anaerobic energy system, a longer sustained workout done at mid-range speeds will use your aerobic energy system. If you blade harder or uphill, you’ll burn even more calories. At the same time, rollerblading is a low-impact workout, reducing the stress on the joints in your lower body.
Lower-body flexibility is the key to maintaining balance when you skate. If your legs are stiff, you can easily fall over or even pull a muscle. Imagine yourself as a coiled spring on wheels, straightening and bending with controlled fluidity. Stretching your quads, hamstrings, calves and groin are part of a good skater’s exercise regimen. For example, do a lying hamstring stretch in which you draw one knee to your chest and slowly straighten your leg toward the ceiling. Side lunges can boost the flexibility of your thigh adductors and abductors. The elongation of the muscles in your thighs will help to slim them down as well as keep them supple.
Tips and Considerations
Perform five to 10 minutes of light cardio, such as jumping jacks or jogging in place, to warm your muscles before you take off on your blades. Unless you’re used to ice skating, you may also want to take a few rollerblading lessons to grow accustomed to skating on blades versus four wheels. Although rollerblading is low impact, a tumble to the ground can take a toll on your wrists and knees. Invest in proper gear – helmet, knee pads and elbow pads. Avoid heavily trafficked streets or sidewalks. The last thing you need on a fun rollerblading workout is a collision with a car or an accident in which you knock someone down.
- Babes on Blades: Drop Physical, Mental and Spiritual Flab Through Inline Skating; Suzan Davis
- The Wharton’s Back Book; Jim Wharton and Phil Wharton
- Precision Heart Rate Training; Ed Burke
- Skatetime School Programs: Physiology of Inline Skating
- Runner’s World Guide to Cross-Training; Matt Fitzgerald
- Fitness and Wellness, 10 Ed.; Werner W.K. Hoeger and Sharon A. Hoeger
Kay Tang is a journalist who has been writing since 1990. She previously covered developments in theater for the "Dramatists Guild Quarterly." Tang graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in economics and political science from Yale University and completed a Master of Professional Studies in interactive telecommunications at New York University.