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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Passport To Gold 2010

The Benefits—Both Physical & Mental—of Ice Skating

Did you know that ice skating on a regular basis can help reduce your risks of cardiovascular disease? Plus it’s a great form of exercise that increases your body’s flexibility and endurance with very low impact, meaning less stress on your knees and other joints.
Experts tout ice skating as a whole body workout, guaranteed to chase those winter blues away through the many benefits, both physically and mentally.
"Even if you go out once a week for an hour, there are incredible benefits in cardio-vascular, core strength and balance," says Dawn Malone, a skating director and coach for 35 years.
"I've heard so many people say, I can't skate because I have weak ankles,'" she said. "That's a myth. Unless you don't have any ankles you can skate."
And for those concerned with falling, Todd Galati, spokesman for the American Council on Exercise, says it's the seasoned skater, not the novice, who is likely to fall harder as they will tend to go faster.
"More dangerous is the ice you don't see when you're walking in your driveway." Galati, an exercise physiologist, explained. "We change the way we move when we know we're walking on ice."
Galati thinks ice skating is a great winter workout. He said a 150-pound recreational skater doing a combination of faster and slower skating will expend a whopping eight and one-half calories per minute.
Specific health benefits from ice skating includes:
Better body weight management
Ice skating can provide a great weight loss opportunity if you’re willing to put in the time, distance, and continuity. With as little as 30 minutes at a time, three times a week, you can easily burn calories and shed unwanted pounds.
In order to make skating a beneficial addition to your weight loss regimen however, you should determine the distance you skate say, within 30 minutes, then each consecutive time you skate, always try to beat your time before.
Increased cardiovascular health, reducing your risk of diseases like obesity, hypertension and diabetes
Ice skating can be a superior cardiovascular workout, depending on the effort you invest. To attain maximum cardiovascular benefit, you should continually swing your arms in concert with your legs and keep moving; coasting will obviously diminish the impact of your workout.
Improved balance and agility
Since ice skating requires you to find your center of gravity, after just a short amount of time, you will find your balance in general has improved. Also, your agility will increase, as with any physical exercise, due to keeping your muscles strong and your body limber.
Tones entire body
Ice skating gives your legs the biggest workout, specifically in the quadriceps and hamstrings, and can result in beautifully toned muscles. However, your entire body will benefit, such as your lower back and abs. As your abdominals work in unison with the many muscles in your back, making it possible for you to walk upright, the constant motion of skating enlists those muscles to also work constantly in order to keep you vertical!
Improves endurance
The key to building endurance with ice skating, is to maintain a constant and steady pace, over a period of time, and over a specific distance. Building it slowly will help you to avoid over exertion and injury.
Improves mental fitness
Ice skating can do wonders when it comes to increasing your mental fitness by providing a significant opportunity to engage in physical activity, and relieving you from life’s daily stressors. If skating outdoors, even better. Fresh air and sunshine are essential to our health—physically and mentally.
As well, skating requires good mental control (alertness, awareness, ability to react). If you practice enough, the benefits will extend into your daily life.
Helps build self-confidence.
Like any physical exercise, ice skating can increase a person’s self-confidence by strengthening their mental and physical condition. Physically, skating is an activity that requires body control and balance. For those that find these aspects more challenging especially, the increase in proficiency in these areas will make them feel better about themselves, as they will feel stronger and more graceful.

2010 U.S. Figure Skating Championships