When I first started rollerblading, I wasn’t sure there would be any health benefits. Rollerblading is definitely a form of exercise, but it felt like too much fun for me – exercise is grueling, right?
Rollerblading feels like I’m just gliding over surfaces, but I have noticed I’ve lost a bit of weight and that some of my muscles are a bit more toned.
I guess you can have fun while you exercise! So, if you are wondering whether rollerblading is good exercise and what are the health benefits of rollerblading, I’ve got all the information you need (and would love) to know right here.
The History of Rollerblading
Rollerblading, also called inline skating, was a generational fad in the 1990s. Instead of becoming a go-to sport for normal folks, rollerblading became something elite athletes do to help them train, and inline speed skating debuted at the 2018 Buenos Aires Games (once it was accepted in 2016).
It also became an outlet for edgy daredevils who want to test the limits of their rollerblades. Thanks to the pandemic, rollerblading is making a comeback with a 300% sales increase since March 2020.
In the late 1970s, Scott and Brennan Olsen were looking for a way they could practice their beloved ice hockey sport during the summer months.
So when they found a pair of inline skates in a sports shop, they thought the design of these skates, plus some tweaks, would work perfectly.
The brothers worked on the design of the inline skates, and they manufactured the first pair of Rollerblade inline skates in the basement of their parent’s Minnesota home. In 1982, Rollerblade, Inc. was founded, and soon Nordic and alpine skiers and other hockey players used rollerblades for their off-season training sessions.
Rollerblading vs Roller Skating: A Quick Comparison
Technically, a rollerblade is also a roller skate, but the boot of a rollerblade supports your ankle more. The four wheels of a rollerblade are in a straight line under the boot.
You can also opt for rollerblades with two, three, or five wheels, but most commonly, rollerblades have four wheels.
A roller skate, also called a quad skate, reminds me of a sneaker that’s mounted on a skateboard with two sets of two wheels each; one pair is near the front of the skateboard-like truck while the other pair of wheels is near the back. The wheels on a roller skate perform just like the wheels of a skateboard truck.
What If I’ve Never Rollerbladed?
If you’ve never rollerbladed before, you can get started today or even tomorrow. My friends actually convinced me to go rollerblading with them one afternoon, and I didn’t know where to start. So if you are in the same boat, here’s how you can get your rollerblade on.
For starters, you’ll need rollerblades, which you can buy from a sports shop or order from an e-commerce platform like Amazon. You also need safety equipment, and this isn’t negotiable. You need a helmet and knee pads. I also recommend getting gloves, wrist guards, and elbow pads.
If you fall, and there may be a fall or two when you start out (and even later on when you are more courageous and want to go faster or try tricks), you want to make sure you protect yourself.
Serious injuries hurt and they take time to heal. And if wounds aren’t properly cared for, the risk of infection is high.
Once you’ve got your gear (rollerblades AND the safety gear), you can get started.
When you put on the rollerblades, you need to find your balance before you go rollerblading. Find a grassy patch, which will provide the traction you need so you don’t go rolling off (just yet), and walk around until you feel comfy.
If you don’t have a garden, you can also use a carpet or yoga mat to find your balance while wearing your rollerblades.
Next, it’s time to go rollerblading on asphalt (tarmac) or concrete.
Ensure your movements are long and smooth: put your weight on the one leg and thread that leg’s foot forward, glide, work to roll this foot back under your body, and then transfer your weight to the other leg and push that foot forward, glide, and roll the foot back, and alternate your feet to rollerblade.
Go slowly, and only pick up speed once you’ve got the hang of the rollerblading movement.
It’s all good and well to rollerblade, but you need to stop at some point. Depending on the rollerblades you buy, there may be a heel stopper at the back of your rollerblades.
Use this to stop when you start out rollerblading, and then as you gain more experience, you can use the length of your blade to brake in a T-stop or plow stop movement.
To stop, place the foot with the heel brake in front of the other one (scissor your feet) and lift the front end of your rollerblade to engage the brake.
You may not have the luxury of going straight for a long distance, so you need to learn how to turn on your rollerblades.
Start with an A-frame turn where you place your feet wider than your hips and shoulders, and then press on the opposite rollerblade to the direction you want to turn. For example, if you want to turn left, press on the right rollerblade.
Other turn options are the parallel turn (or scissor turn, as I call it because you scissor your feet) and the crossover turn.
Yes, I know. This sounds like something you DO NOT want to do, but falling “correctly” while rollerblading helps minimize injuries.
When you start out, rollerblade in an area where there’s grass – a soft landing – and preferably no objects – like debris, rocks, pedestrians, or cars.
If you feel shaky on your rollerblades, drop down or get low to the ground and drop to your one knee slowly. This will ensure you slow down and come to a complete stop. Remember to wear your high quality knee pads!
If you fall forward, have your elbow pads, wrist guards, and gloves take the brunt of your fall. Keep your elbows and knees bent when you fall forward.
The worst way to fall is probably on your back. I’ve had a bruised tailbone to prove it. So when you fall backward, try to twist your body a bit so one of your butt cheeks can absorb some impact. You can buy special padded skater pants to offer some protection.
9 Benefits of Rollerblading
As I’ve come to learn too as I’ve been rollerblading for a few months, there are various benefits you can reap from this fun exercise.
Here are the benefits of rollerblading:
1. Solo or Social
If you are like me, the solo nature of rollerblading might be a BIG attraction. Simply put your inline skates on, and go rollerblade whether you’d like.
But if you are a social butterfly, don’t despair. Rollerblading is a social form of exercise too, so you can hit up some friends and go have fun while you rollerblade.
If you don’t have any friends who like to go rollerblading, you can check out meetup for rollerblading groups near you.
2. Muscle Endurance
Another one of the benefits of rollerblading is that it builds muscle endurance. While you rollerblade, various muscle groups in your core, lower back, hips, upper legs, and hips get a workout.
When you inline skate for a few hours at a time, your stamina improves, which helps you do other everyday activities a lot easier.
3. Balance and Coordination
Rollerblading is also great for improving your balance and coordination. I remember the first time I stood up with rollerblades on, and balance was the first thing I had to work on.
When you rollerblade, you have to maintain an upright position and the correct form. You need to engage your lower back muscles and core, which works on your overall coordination, balance, and stability.
4. Lose Weight and Weight Management
Another benefit I love about rollerblading is that it’s a fun way to lose weight or help manage your weight.
For example, a 160-pound person can burn 573 calories if they move at a recreational pace of 9 miles per hour for an hour workout. If they rollerblade for exercise training or at a fast pace of 13-13.6 miles per hour for 60 minutes, they can burn 939 calories.
Compared to running, that same person would burn 382 calories if they run at 4 miles per hour for 60 minutes (or 13 minutes per mile), or 977 calories if they run at 9 mile per hour for 60 minutes (6.5 minutes per mile).
Since I’ve started rollerblading, I’ve noticed how much more toned my arms and legs are.
When you rollerblade, you use the muscles in your legs and glutes as your tread forward, and you use the muscles in your core and arms when you try to increase your momentum.
6. Heart Health
Rollerblading strengthens muscles, and that includes the essential muscle that is your heart. Because this form of exercise is aerobic, your heart rate increases, which in turn improves your heart health. Related to your heart, your lungs also get a good workout when you rollerblade.
Rollerblading at a steady pace for half an hour increases your heart rate to around 148 beats per minute, which is similar to when you go for a run. If you want to give your heart and lungs an even more challenging workout, you can also up the difficulty level.
Rollerblade uphill or even consider interval training where you rollerblade as fast as you can for a minute or two and then take it easy for a minute
I love rollerblading because I get to be outside, breathing in the fresh air and appreciating nature. There are many benefits to exercising in nature, from working out longer, which burns more calories, and feeling happier to elevating your self-esteem and reducing stress.
Any exercise stimulates your happy hormones, which boosts mental health. I’ve noticed how much clearer I think and how less stressed I feel after a rollerblading session. Sounds like a win to me.
8. Joint Strength
Rollerblading is kind on your joints since you don’t have the hard impact on your knees and ankles as you do with running, cycling, and similar workouts. Even better perhaps, is that inline skating also strengthens your joints because of how fluidly or smoothly you move.
9. Self-Confidence Boost
Last but not least, your self-confidence gets a boost when you rollerblade. I know how proud I felt when I had just mastered balancing after I put my rollerblades on for the first time, and then with every accomplishment – turning, stopping, and doing tricks – I felt my self-confidence growing.
Final Thoughts on the Benefits of Rollerblading
Do you also feel like you just want to grab a pair of inline skates now, master balancing, turning, and stopping, and just explore your local park or neighborhood while you glide over the concrete or tarmac? (I know, same for me – so guess where I’m headed to now…)
Go on. Try rollerblading and see for yourself just how amazing this kind of workout can be. Plus, it’ll feel more like fun than doing burpees or running on the treadmill for the hundredth boring time.
Ready to hit the outdoors and go rollerblading? Why don’t you check out our list of movies to inspire you even more about working out in nature?