Ice Skating for Winter Exercise

Skating is cheap, fun and provides an excellent full-body workout

Credit: Flickr/Thomas Hawk

Flickr/Thomas Hawk

Skating is a great family activity, and it burns a lot of calories

Looking for a winter activity that’s great exercise, fun for the whole family and can be enjoyed for a lifetime? Start skating

Skating provides an awesome full-body workout, but with far less impact on the joints than other aerobic activities, like running. It primarily works the muscles of the lower body, although it also benefits the arms and shoulders.

Skating also helps build stronger bones, raises the heart rate (which helps build endurance), and improves balance and co-ordination.

Skating burns lots of calories too: Just one hour of continuous skating burns about 600 calories for a 150-pound adult (comparable to running five miles in an hour).

Add in lots of forward and backward crossovers as well as turning and stopping and you’ll increase the burn to as much as 800 calories per hour.

What You Need to Start Ice Skating

Skating is inexpensive. Skates and safety equipment can be rented, so it’s not necessary to buy your own.

When skating, always wear a CSA-approved skating helmet; this is especially critical for anyone (child or adult) learning to skate. Protective equipment, such as elbow and knee pads, is also recommended.

If you’re new to skating, take lessons. Knowing proper skating technique will build your skill set and confidence on the ice. The skills learned will include stopping on ice as well as how to fall correctly to prevent injury.

If you plan to skate often, take time to strengthen your lower back and abdominal muscles. Strong mid-body muscles aid in maintaining the balance needed for skating. In addition, all the power in every skating motion is generated from the core of your body.

To stay fit in the off-season try cycling as it exercises many of the same muscles used in skating.

Find more winter activities in Vancouver.

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.