Rollerblading dates back to as early as the 1700s, but it didn't gain worldwide popularity until the mid-1900s. Hockey players were the first to use Rollerblades as an off-season conditioning tool, but they soon caught on with other professional athletes along with fitness enthusiasts for a calorie-burning and muscle-building workout. When compared with other forms of fitness, such as running, Rollerblading is nearly as effective in almost every category.
On average, Rollerblading and running burns about the same amount of calories per hour. For example, a 160-lb. person who Rollerblades for one hour burns about 913 calories while that same person burns about 986 calories running at 8 mph. You can increase the average number of calories burned per hour, however, by skating uphill or at a faster pace.
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With the ability to coast with the wheels on Rollerblades, the aerobic benefits from Rollerblading isn't quite as good as running. However, Rollerblading is still a better aerobic workout than cycling. Similar to burning calories, you can increase the aerobic benefits by skating uphill or at a faster pace. You can also build endurance by skating at a slow, steady pace for a longer distance.
The side-to-side movement required for Rollerblading results in a better muscle building workout than running. This natural movement incorporates nearly every lower body muscle group, including the inner thigh and glute muscles. You can also strengthen the hamstrings, quadriceps and calf muscles by alternating between forward and backward skating. Swinging your arms during the skating motion also strengthens the arms and core. Rollerblading for about 20 to 30 minutes per day can strengthen these muscle groups and the surrounding joints, ligaments and tendons.
By eliminating the foot strike on every stride, Rollerblading is generally safer on your joints than running. In fact, Rollerblading provides about 50 percent less impact to the joints when compared to running, according to the University of Massachusetts. As a result, someone with knee or hip injuries can use Rollerblading as a low-impact cardio and muscle-building exercise routine. Always skate on smooth surfaces and avoid making sudden stops, turns or twists to reduce the impact on your joints.