Ice Skating Has Fantastic Benefits For The Body, Experts Say

Graceful, powerful and agile, professional skaters are often among the fittest people. Ice skating has been practiced in the United States and the United Kingdom for years, but it was not properly formed as a sport until the 1740s by the Edinburgh Skating Club. Since then, it has grown in popularity and is loved by adults and children alike.

Much like the benefits of swimming and other recreational activities like roller skating or surfing, ice skating provides a full body workout, while trying a fun activity. “Skating has many benefits related to your well-being,” says fitness expert Nataly Komova. “It can also help you achieve other fitness goals and increase muscle mass and endurance for other sports.” Going to the rink is more than just a hobby, it’s about endurance, strength and balance. If you’re a fan of ITV’s Dancing On Ice or just like to test your balance in the pop-up ice rinks that pop up each winter, lacing up your skates could be a fun activity to improve your fitness.

Is ice skating good exercise?

Ice skating has many health benefits. Not only does standing on the ice challenge your balance, but keeping your muscles engaged for long periods of time means it’s great for strength training. “Skaters exercise almost every muscle in the body,” says Komova. “It’s partly because of the synchronized movement of the legs that happens as you skate, which in the long run increases joint flexibility. It’s also good for the heart as movement and effort improve your circulation and your heart rate.” According to our experts, ice skating has five key health benefits: sculpting, stronger muscles and bone density, cardio training

1. Sculpting Benefits

Although it seems like your legs are doing most of the work, ice skating impacts all of your major muscle groups, from your quads and calves to your core and shoulders. Engaging these muscles can lead to long-term benefits, such as research (opens in a new tab) from Umeå University Hospital in Sweden, found that the strength of the quadriceps (the front and side quadriceps) of professional skaters was the result of the number of hours they spent training on the rink each week .

2. Stronger muscles and bone density

“Ice skating strengthens your leg muscles, making them stronger and less prone to injury,” says PT Lucy Arnold. “It also makes it a good cross-training exercise for runners because the motion is very similar.” Ice skating is also great for increasing bone density, which is a good insurance policy against loss as we age. According to a study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, young ice hockey players’ bone density increased after just two and a half years of playing the sport, with further gains after five years. However, consistency is key, as the study also showed that after some of the participants stopped playing regularly, their bone density decreased, so you will need to stay engaged in ice skating if you want to see continued results. .

3. Cardio training

Feet of skaters on frozen lake

(Image credit: Getty Images)

“Ice skating is a great cardiovascular workout, which improves your overall health and well-being,” says Arnold. Although advanced skaters probably burn more calories than beginners by going slow, hitting the rink is a great way to get your heart pumping and the blood flowing through your body. In fact, in a study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, it was revealed that skaters could produce the same level of aerobic skating as they would on a bike, meaning this low-impact exercise can be a fantastic workout. for your heart.

“Besides muscle strength, skating also helps improve endurance,” says Komova. “Adding a few sessions of incline (uphill) running can train your body and your heart muscles to use your body’s stored energy efficiently. You can skate longer without burning out.”

4. Balance Generator

Just like roller skating, ice skating involves some balance to keep you upright and moving forward. “Ice skating can improve balance and coordination,” adds Arnold. “That’s because you’re using your core to maintain stability and your ankle and leg muscles to maneuver.” If done regularly, regular ice skating can be a great way to improve your balance and hone your coordination as you get older.

5. Social gains

“Ice skating is a good social activity and there are plenty of clubs across the country,” says Arnold. “It can be a really good way to improve your mental health because you’ll be spending time with others and making friends.” Spending time in the fresh air has also been proven to help your brain. According to the mental health charity Disturbs (opens in a new tab)being outdoors can improve your mood, reduce feelings of stress and even boost your self-esteem, making ice skating, with its outdoor rinks, a great activity for your mental as well as physical fitness.

How many calories does ice skating burn?

If you want to lose weight, ice skating can be a good workout. Research from Harvard Medical School shows that a person weighing around 155 pounds can burn between 210 and 311 calories doing half an hour of ice skating. Of course, the longer and harder you skate, the more calories you’ll burn, so be sure to load up on protein and complex carbs for sustained energy before hitting the ice.

How to ice skate safely

Many beginning skaters worry about inevitable falls. However, with the right safety gear, this shouldn’t be too much of a concern. Items you will need to skate safely include, but are not limited to, a helmet, warm clothing such as a hat and gloves, and in some circumstances knee pads and shin guards.

Getting the right ice skates is also essential – skates should not be too loose or too tight as this can cause you to wobble on the ice and cause blisters. It’s also essential to try to stretch properly afterwards, as engaging your muscles for long periods of time can cause them to tense and stay tense. A yoga session (if you’re unfamiliar with yoga, you can try a yoga for beginners class from our guide) after skating can be a great way to relax your joints and stretch your muscles.

For more information on finding an ice rink near you, go to British Ice Skating (opens in a new tab).


w&h would like to thank Nataly Komova, RD and fitness expert for Just CBD (opens in a new tab), and Lucy Arnold, PT and Founder of lucy locket loves (opens in a new tab).

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