Is Roller Skating a Good Workout? 5 Top-Rated Roller Skates to Help You Feel the Burn

The latest quarantine trend will whip your body into amazing shape.

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."

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."

Long Beach-based roller skater Jas Moore recommends Moxi Beach Bunny Roller Skates. "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.

Dean and Shah also suggest getting a skate teacher (ideally virtual right now) to help you get the right footing, so to speak.

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