Written by Jason Stewart

CourseAmerican Literature
Instructor Kenneth Storkson
Date submitted March 21 2001

Why Do You Skate?, I always knew I was doing somthing good for my body by skating, besides having fun.  Now when someone asks me, "What's so great about skating?"  Jason Stewart has given me the words to express the fun.  Thank you Jason for the opportunity to reprint your Paper.

Why in-line skate? It is a simple question. One which has many answers. The biggest one being fun. You don’t see runners having fun. They’re huffing and puffing with their bouncing up and down. Skaters just cruise by smile and wave. The second is health. This report is on the health benefits in-line skating has on the human body. You can’t very well do a report on fun now can you? It is even arguable that in-line skating is the most health beneficial physical sport in practice.

Back to the original question. Why in-line skate?  Because in-line skating provides the most important components of a good all-around fitness program.   Cardiovascular or cardio respiratory fitness (endurance), muscular fitness (muscular strength and muscular endurance), body composition, and flexibility.

And remember, in-line skating isn’t a source of fitness for adults only. In-line skating may have special significance in terms of fitness benefits it can have for children. According to several studies, American Children, as a group, are not as fit as they once were. Children are spending more time participating in passive activities such as watching television or using the computer and less time participating in sports. According to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA), in-line skating is the most popular outdoor recreational sport among American children ages 6-17.         

Cardiovascular fitness (also known as cardio respiratory fitness or aerobic fitness) by definition is the measure of the body’s ability to do work (exercise). When you exercise, blood is pumped by the heart to the working muscles. This blood has had oxygen put in it by the lungs. The muscles use up some of the oxygen and send the rest back to the lungs for more. As you get more and more fit, your muscles become able to use more and more oxygen in the blood, which in turn, allows you to do more work. The more work you are able to do, the more blood your heart can pump and so on in the upward spiral of fitness.

Muscular strength is a measure of the ability of a muscle or a group of muscles to perform work against a significant resistance. As we get older, our strength declines steadily unless we engage in some type of physical activity. The repetitive, low-impact movements of in-line skating can provide sufficient leg exercise to maintain muscular strength.   In addition, the unique bent-knee position used during the glide phase forces the legs to support all of the body weight in a position in which they don’t typically support much weight. This increases strength through a greater range of motion than do sports such as cycling or running. The increased strength you gain not only helps your skating but can cross over to other sports as well.   The movement during a classic skating stroke not only extends the leg, as in walking or cycling, but also pushes the leg to the outside of the body, abducting (extending away from the center of the main axis) the leg at the hip. This leg abduction and the ensuing leg adduction, or returning the leg toward the middle of the body, use muscles not recruited during the linear (straight line) activities of walking or cycling. These muscles located on the inner thigh and on the gluteal region  become stronger as a result of skating. The strengthening both assists in skating and minimizes the risk of injury when performing other activities, since those muscles will be less likely to be overworked.

Muscular endurance is the ability of a muscle or a group of muscles to repetitively perform a task without experiencing undue fatigue.   Due to the unique biomechanics of the sport, the quadriceps muscles of the thighs remain contracted for an extended period during each stroke cycle.  This constant workload makes it necessary for the leg muscles to develop endurance. Increasing the duration of your skate workouts will enhance your muscular endurance.  ( as discussed earlier in the paper through cardiovascular fitness). 

Body Composition. Body weight alone is not an indicator of fitness level or health, the composition of the body (fat mass and lean mass) is just important-or even more important- in many people. Fat mass, as the name implies, is simply the amount of the body that is composed of fat, while lean, or fat free mass, is the balance of the body weight, meaning everything else.  

Now here is an interesting little factoid that many fitness gurus will be interested to learn. …you won’t necessarily be burning only fat when you expend calories. You can also be burning carbohydrate and protein. Generally, lower-intensity exercises (like skating!) get a larger percentage of their calorie burning from fats, while higher-intensity exercises get a larger percentage from carbohydrates. So to put it simply you can do a seemingly more fun and easier activity, skating, for a longer period of time and burn more fat calories than your carbos and proteins. Easier work for more fat calories burned? Sounds like the perfect diet! But wait, there’s more. Being that you can burn more fat calories, it sounds to me like you can eat whatever you want and burn more calories having fun rather than working hard. It is the perfect diet! 

Flexibility, the degree to which joints can be put through a range of motion, can be enhanced through in-line skating. The distinctive lateral leg action (which has been noted as not present in running or cycling) of in-line skating requires a certain degree of flexibility of the inner thigh muscles, so as you improve your technique, your inner thigh muscles will be stretched farther during each stroke. 

In-line skating as a form of exercise is as beneficial as running or cycling.” According to Dr Carl Foster, associate professor of medicine at the university of Wisconsin Medical School and coordinator of sports medicine and sports science for the United States Speed Skating Team.

”In-line skating strides work leg muscles for longer periods of time than running strides or cycling crank cycles.”  In-line skating creates higher muscular activity levels for hips, thighs and shins than running or cycling In-line skating produces less than half the impact shock to joints that running does.  This is most important. 

In-line skating, when compared to running causes less than 50 percent of the  impact shock to joints, according to a recent study conducted by the University of Massachusetts, thus demonstrating that inline skating is less harmful to joints than the higher impact sport of running. In-line skating burns as many calories as running.

It has also been stated and proven that skating burns more calories than running or cycling. Interval skating, (alternating one minute of hard skating in a tuck position with one minute of easy skating in an up right position ) expends 450 calories in thirty minutes.  Mean while, Running and cycling expend 350 and 360 calories…

In-line skating offers tremendous potential to enhance your fitness level. It yields the same cardiovascular benefits of high-impact sports such as jogging, racquet ball, and basket ball without the undue stress to the joints and muscular system.  Anaerobically, in-line skating was found to be more beneficial than both running and cycling because it is intrinsically easier and more natural for building hip and thigh muscles that are not developed in the other two forms of exercise. Unlike cycling, in-line skating develops hamstring muscles. And unlike running, in-line skating is a low impact activity.  

Once again, “low impact” comes into play. It cannot be stressed enough that low impact activities are the best kinds, especially for the joints. Our joints must not be abused to their extreme. Your joints allow you run after a bus that’s leaving or let you bend down to pick up something you’ve dropped or even to tie your shoe. They must be kept in good condition. The biggest reason is the prevention of arthritis.           

A separate study conducted at the Human Performance Laboratory at St Cloud State University in Minnesota found that in-line skating develops muscles in the entire upper leg, rear end, and hip, as well as the lower back. Muscles in the upper arms and shoulders are also developed when arms are swung vigorously while skating.


1.www.Rollerblade.comviewed 3-12-01
2. Suzanne Nottingham and Frank J. Fedel: Fitness In-line Skating; Human Kinetics; copyright 1998
3.www.IISA.orgviewed 3-14-01
4. Peter Fluke and Gil Clark; International Inline Skating Association’s 1997 Inline Skating Resource Guide;  copyright, 1997, IISA