Whether you are a professional ice skater, a toddler, a retiree, a student, or a housewife, you can get health benefits from ice skating.
Being in itself an aerobic exercise just like walking, running, and swimming, it offers positive effects for your cardiovascular health. An advantage over running is that it is not as hard on your joints, as it is a low-impact exercise, unless you do jumps while ice skating. It makes heart muscles healthy, providing significant protection from coronary artery diseases and subsequent heart attacks. It also aids in weight loss, as one gets to burn 250 to 810 calories per hour with recreational ice skating, according to the U.S. Figure Skating Association webpage. Meanwhile, competitive skating uses up more calories, at 450 to 1,080 per hour of skating. Just to illustrate, a 68-kg man skating continuously for an hour burns as much calories as when he is running five miles in an hour.
As with other sports activities, ice skating also improves ones endurance. Endurance builds when one maintains a constant, steady pace, over a longer period of time. It is important though that at the start, it is all right to settle for short distances, but over time, these have to be increased gradually so that endurance increases as well.
Ice skating also improves muscle tone. When ice skating, the quadriceps and hamstrings are the leg muscles which do the most work, but many other muscles in the body work in concert with these leg muscles. The abdominal and back muscles also need to contract and relax in order to maintain an upright posture and balance.
Mental fitness is also enhanced with ice skating, as it exercises ones mental control during the act. One needs to be very alert and aware during skating. It is a de-stressor and a form of relaxation for many individuals who use it as a means to break free from the stresses of life and work. The fresh air and sunshine in outdoor ice skating, as well as the company of family and friends, greatly help in unwinding from a long week of work and problems. Self confidence is definitely improved as well. The challenge of establishing full body control and balance brings pride when one is able to overcome these.
It is very nice to see that adults are becoming more aware of their health, and that many have turned to ice skating to become physically fit. Gone are the days when only children were interested in moving and gliding on ice.