Rollerblading VS Running: Which is a Better Exercise?

Exercising can sometimes be a real drag, and you may be one of those people that have looked for some form of activity that’s more interesting than running. Or you may love running, but yearn to mix it up and give you knees a bit of rest.

I certainly never liked pounding the pavement, but there is no denying that running is great for burning calories and losing weight. Now, rollerblading is much more my style, and cruising along the boardwalk doesn’t feel like hard work at all.

Still, does my affinity for rollerblading make my bias to the undeniable health benefits of running? Conversely, am I underestimating how effective a workout rollerblading can be? 

And that is when I began to wonder which is better: rollerblading vs running to improve my health and add a little pep to my exercise routine? 

A Definition of Rollerblading and Running

Rollerblading is an activity that involves attaching in-line skates to your feet. Unlike regular roller skates, where you are balanced on two sets of two wheels (one pair toward the front of your foot and one toward your heel) each for a total of four wheels per foot, rollerblades use three wheels that are placed in single file to create a wheeled version of ice skates

Simulating the movement of ice skating, you also move your legs in a curving arch when rollerblading. When rollerblading, you rock your weight from one leg to the other, letting the skates slide forward until they reach the edge of each arch, then you hop over to the other skate. 

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Rollerblading is an activity that involves attaching in-line skates to your feet.

Running is something we can all do, and it’s one of the first types of movement we learned as a baby when we progress from crawling to standing, then walking and running. 

When we run, we step our feet forward in quick succession, with a skipped movement in between where the runner has both legs off the ground. Running as an exercise can take many forms: road running, cross-country running, racing or sprinting, and also stationary running on a treadmill. 

Rollerblading Pros and Cons

There are several pros to rollerblading that make it a great form of exercise, but it also comes with risks. 

Pros of Rollerblading 

  • Fun activity to do
  • Encourages suppleness and lengthening of leg muscles
  • Builds core strength 
  • Improves balance
  • Excellent cardio workout
  • Great social activity 
  • Doesn’t feel as strenuous as other forms of exercise, and you can avoid impact-based injuries such as shin splints
  • Targets core areas that are normally hard to exercise such as the inner thigh, glutes, and hip muscles
  • Lower impact on joints as there’s no damaging impact from strides because each leg slides into the next stride instead of landing heavily as with running or speed walking
  • Burns calories faster than many types of exercise at 537-702 calories per hour for mild to moderate level effort, and up to 1,002 calories burned when racing

Cons of Rollerblading

  • Requires the purchase of reasonably expensive equipment for a quality set of rollerblades or in-line skates
  • Some safety equipment is also required – such as a skating helmet, gloves, knee pads, and elbow guards 
  • Maintenance of equipment 
  • Equipment can malfunction 
  • Losing your balance can lead to a serious fall
  • Have to worry about packing them if leaving home for a period of time (vacation or business trip)

Running Pros and Cons

Running has many positives that make it great exercise to engage in. However, as with all good things, there are a few downers too. Beginners should take care to start their running practice correctly

Pros of Running 

  • Requires minimal equipment, other than a good pair of running shoes
  • Can be done wherever you are as long as there is enough space to run
  • No formal training required 
  • Burns fair amount of calories per hour at 573 calories per hour for a gentle jog and up to 1,074 when running up stairs or on a steep incline
  • Can be a social activity 
  • Great cardio workout
  • Builds muscle and core strength
  • Scenic running when on a nature trail or cross country
  • Improves coordination and balance

Cons of Running

  • Requires space for running or purchase of a treadmill, if you are running in a small space like your apartment
  • Running shoes can be costly, especially if you are compensating for a physical challenge such as a drop foot
  • Running shoes typically need to be replaced every 400-500 miles
  • Running shoes need to be correctly broken in before you run longer distances, which takes time
  • There is a risk of tripping and falling, especially with cross-country running, so injuries can happen
  • Can be intense for knee, hip, and ankle joints 
  • Running can cause damage to cartilage due to the high impact on hard surfaces

To Sum Up the Pros and Cons…

Summing up the pros and cons of rollerblading vs running can provide a well-informed way to make your decision regarding which form of exercise is better for you, as shown in this infographic below. 

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Running is something we can all do, and it’s one of the first types of movement we learned as a baby when we progress from crawling to standing, then walking and running. 

How to Decide Between Rollerblading and Running

Deciding between rollerblading and running can be a challenge, but these are my suggestions: 

Choose Rollerblading if:

  • You’re concerned about joint strain, especially on the knees
  • You are concerned about falling when running on a trail or other uneven terrain
  • Want a greater calorie burn than many other exercises, such as walking or biking (approximately 530-1000 per hour, depending on skate speed)
  • Want to target core areas that are normally hard to exercise – such as the inner thigh, glutes, and hip muscles

Choose Running if:

  • You enjoy the flexibility of being able to do it anywhere and anytime, with only a pair of sneakers in hand (rollerblades can be a pain to pack or lug around everywhere)
  • Want the max calorie burn (approximately 550 -1100 per hour, dependent on pace)
  • Want to avoid purchasing costly skates and safety equipment
  • You have healthy knees
  • You are interested in races or group outings

Final Thoughts on Rollerblading VS Running

I have personally chosen to incorporate both rollerblading and running into my fitness routine, though I do way more rollerblading than running. The weight loss benefits of rollerblading, my concerns over joint health and the pure exhilaration of skating down the local boardwalk are what have gotten me hooked on this “exercise on the roll.” 

When I’m away from home, however, I leave my skates and protective gear behind and go with some comfortable and compact running shoes instead.   Either way, whether I am running or skating, I know my health is taken care of and I can enjoy an active lifestyle… no matter where I am. 

And since running and rollerblading burns pretty much the same amount of calories (depending on effort), the choice between rollerblading vs running truly is a personal one. At the end of the day, it boils down to your overall fitness level and whichever activity you will enjoy most… so that you’ll keep at it!

Whichever you choose, don’t forget to breath properly to increase stamina and endurance. Check out our article on 11 great strategies to breathe better while running.

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