Is Roller Skating a Good Workout? 5 Top-Rated Roller Skates to Help You Feel the Burn
Fun fact: I grew up only a few minutes away from Lynwood Sport Center in Illinois, a roller rink opened in the late 1970s that set the scene for the 2005 film Roll Bounce (starring Masked Singer hopeful Bow Wow), a film that I once believed brought roller skating back into the mainstream for fun and sport. I attended many birthday parties and kids’ skate nights at the rink, teetering along under a disco ball, accompanied by the scent of hot rubber and snack bar pizza. The last I saw of that rink was 2010, my shins and tailbone aching from hours gliding across the concrete floor without a care in the world.
Ten years later, the vast majority of the world is quarantined and experimenting with new ways to stay active while isolated, and I never would have believed that we'd return to roller skating. Just ask the teenagers of TikTok, whose skating videos are reaching millions of viewers across the globe daily, leading to pairs of skates quickly selling out online.
“There's an impression that skating is ‘coming back,’ which is true in some sense, but it's actually been on the rise for about 10 years slowly and then picked up within the past 2-3 years,” Arnav “Sonic” Shah, a two-decade-long multidisciplinary skate artist and teacher based in New York City tells Health. “Skating now is nothing like it was when I started in the 90s.”
Tanya Dean, a professional skate instructor and founder of Skaterobics, is overjoyed by skating’s recent popularity, especially as a form of solo activity during quarantine. “Skating is a feeling of intimacy and happiness,” says Dean. “It's liberation, but also an amazing workout.”
Is roller skating a good workout?
Well, Dean's absolutely right—skating is an effective full body workout. According to the Roller Skating Association International, it utilizes every muscle in your body and burns anywhere from 350 to 600 calories per hour. “I've never met anyone who skates a lot who doesn't have a nice butt,” Shah jokes. “You're using your arms and shoulders, but also your abs and your back to keep balanced. It uses your whole body in a lot of ways.” Shah also mentions that given skating’s low-impact cardio nature, you’re less likely to encounter the same knee issues you often get with high impact cardio like HIIT or running.
Dean, who teaches a lot of older skaters, emphasizes the importance of warming up and stretching before getting on your skates to prevent injury, especially in the hamstring area. “When I start my classes, as soon as they get on the floor, we stretch as you would before any aerobics class,” Dean says. “With skating, your feet are shoulder length apart and your body is tilted forward. Being in that position for a long time can tense your hamstrings, so focus on keeping them pliable.”
RELATED: How to Do a Hamstring Stretch
The best roller skates
For those looking to get into (or back into) skating, Shah and Dean both emphasize investing in quality equipment: a helmet, wrist guards, elbow pads, knee pads, possibly padded bottoms to protect your butt, and, of course, a decent pair of roller skates. "My favorite skates are the Riedell 3200," Dean tells Health, "It’s tough, gritty, and strong, and so New York because they’re built to last." Dean and Shah also suggest getting a skate teacher (ideally virtual right now) to help you get the right footing, so to speak.
Interested in a fresh pair of skates? We found some of the top-rated skates on the web for you to hit the pavement, and eventually the rink with. Have fun, and happy skating!
Moxi Beach Bunny Roller Skates
These retro, pastel-colored skates easily coordinate with your favorite outfit, and are also a top pick from Long Beach-based roller skater Jas Moore. “I love my Moxi skates! The quality is definitely reflected in the price that you pay for them! They have a ton of great colors to choose from and there’s a lot of different ways to customize them," Moore tells Health. They feature a toe-stop and are fitted with MDI outdoor wheels, which are made from durable urethane to make skating sidewalks and pavement super smooth.
Rollerblade Women's Zetrablade Inline Skates
Best for newbies looking to skate casually, these in-line skates deliver comfort, support, and stability at a more affordable price point. The secure closure ensures they stay snug on your feet, while the monocoque frame helps to lower the center of gravity (translation: it'll help you stay upright and balanced). Also nice: Once you become a more skilled and confident skater, you can actually upgrade the wheels to higher-performance ones.
"I am no expert on roller blades so take my comments with a grain of salt but i've been riding with these since global quarantine a little every day and love blading again. Super smooth, and great for a beginner like me, though I consider myself somewhere between beginner and intermediate," wrote one Amazon reviewer.
Riedell Skates Dart Ombré Quad Roller Speed Skate
Loved by pros and beginners alike, Riedell is known for its quality roller and ice skates. This super fun ombré skate has a sturdy, breathable boot, steel ball bearings for an ultra-smooth ride, and polyurethane wheels to grip whatever surface you're skating.
"Good skates for a beginner who wants to pursue quad skating but doesn't want rentals," said a customer. "They roll well, wheels have just enough grip, and no blisters after the first session. Plus the color combo is attractive."
Roller Star 750 Women's Hightop Roller Skates
Perfect for the rink, park, sidewalk, and boardwalk (literally anywhere you can glide!), make a statement with these colorful, versatile skates. The boot has a roomier toe box and is cushy enough to keep you comfortable for hours on your feet, while the wheels give you control and grip on any surface. Reviewers also commented these were a great option for wide feet.
"Tried on SO many skates, couldn't believe these were the ones that ended up working for me! If you have wide feet or bunions, these are the keepers. I sent back the $150-200 pairs (multiple brands) bc the toe boxes weren't wide enough. Not only that, they're comfortable all the way around and are very supportive," shared a shopper.
Rollerblade Macroblade 100 3WD Womens Adult Fitness Inline Skate
Even though it's a three-wheeler, this is a true performance skate and racer. The higher boot cuff design offers more support while still remaining flexible, and the sizable wheels are great for those looking to elevate their skating, since they offer both speed and maneuverability. Many reviewers noted their skating experience, so these would be a good fit for seasoned skaters, as well as novices looking to upgrade to the next level.
"My first pair of 3 wheeled blades and I am obsessed with them! They feel like you have a pair skis on and are very easy to stay balanced. Great for training and getting a KILLER workout in," wrote one customer.
To buy: Rollerblade Macroblade 100 3WD Womens Adult Fitness Inline Skate (from $219; amazon.com)
Sign up for our Health Shopping newsletter to get your daily dose of retail therapy with great deals handpicked by our editors—straight to your inbox.