As it gets colder, many of us are looking for fun activities to cross-train through the winter. Runners have many cross-training options, including cross-country skiing, mountain biking, hiking and swimming. In these cold and dark winter months, have you ever thought: Is ice skating for runners good? We know it as a fun family event, but many people don’t know there are a lot of benefits with ice skating! For example, did you know that according to the American Heart Association, ice skating is recognized as equivalent to running in terms of health benefits?
Can ice skating benefit running?
Ice skating is known to have several health benefits, including:
- Aerobic Exercise
- Strengthening muscles
- Improved cardiovascular health
Ice skating can also be an excellent activity for the entire family. Unlike skiing, it’s not as expensive and doesn’t require as much gear. It’s more beginner friendly and generally more accessible.
But how can ice skating benefit runners?
Low-Impact Cardiovascular Exercise:
Most of us, especially beginners, aren’t doing fancy tricks like jumping and spinning. That makes ice skating a low-impact cardio exercise for almost anyone of any age. If you are with family or friends, it’s a great activity with health benefits.
Like running, ice skating relies mainly on the legs. It helps build your leg and abdominal muscles because as you ice skate, almost every muscle is involved – from your ankles and feet to your shoulders.
Here are just a few of the muscles ice skating strengthens:
- Legs: including hamstrings, quadriceps, calves
- Core, back glutes, hips, abs
- Shoulders, arms
Plus, so much more!
Improved Balance and Coordination
Ice skating uses your core to help keep you stay upright and balanced. As you learn to skate, you must teach your body to balance on a thin blade across the ice. Balancing on the edges strengthens the muscles and tendons in your feet and ankles. We know runners use both of those!
Improves Joint Flexibility:
How does ice skating improve joint flexibility? As you ice skate, your joints are constantly moving without impact. This helps strengthen the ligaments and connective tissue around your joints. It also helps produce synovial fluid to keep your joints lubricated.
How Can You Get Started Ice Skating?
One of the best aspects of ice skating is that they offer proper gear to get you started at almost every ice skating rink. Many local ice skating rinks even offer lessons for adults! The only thing you need to bring yourself is the right clothing. Like running, you want to wear moisture wicking clothing (you’ll sweat!). You also want to make sure your hands are protected with a pair of gloves.
How can you pick the correct size of ice skates?
Like running shoes, you don’t want your ice skates to fit too tightly. Having a size too small will be uncomfortable, and you could injure your feet. It’s important to note that too large a size of ice skates won’t have the proper ankle support and can also increase your injury risk. Ice skates should feel snug but not tight. You should be able to wiggle all your toes, and your feet should never go numb. Most people settle on their running shoe size.
You may believe that ice skating is made for naturally coordinated and graceful people. That isn’t the case, and any person can reap the benefits of ice skating, whether you are new to the sport or a veteran. Plus, it’s a great way to bond with the family and get some physical exercise too! Ice skating can be a low-impact way to cross train and build time on your feet, maintain your cardio fitness, and help strengthen muscle groups complimentary to running.