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Ice skating when there's no ice.

Well, it's practically the same thing--and it's not just for kids, either. Roller blading has been sweeping the country as one of the most exciting forms of exercise to come down the pike (so to speak) in a generation. So named because of the unique design of the roller skates--with all four wheels i a row rather than paired side-by-sde--the sport is providing fun for people of all ages, and with terrific benefits.

Twenty minutes of skating vigorously around a vacant parking lot or other relatively smooth pavement is a first-rate aerobic activity. The calories that can be burned up in even half an hour of casual skating equal those used in the same period for running or serious cycling. Moreover, the risk of damage to one's knees and ankles is distinctly less than that of running. Also, the sport develops the muscles of the hip, thigh, back, and lower abdomen that running does not. Tennis players can strengthen their back muscles and improve their agility with roller blading, and even swimmers employ it to give themselves a more balanced workout.

There is, of course, the danger of falling, and the sport is not for anyone who has osteoporosis or problems of balance. But what sports are without that risk? Even a swimmer can slip on the pool edge--and, unlike most sports, protective gear is the uniform of the well-schooled "blader," rather than an inhibiting encumbrance. Knee and elbow pads, wrist guards, and even a lightweight bicycle helmet are the haute couture of the blading set.

The moulded boot of the skates provides excellent ankle support--better than typical ice or roller skates--and the skates are more stable and provide much better maneuverability. However, they can be expensive (up to $400 a pair), so before making a sizable investment, check with shops that sell them to inquire about rental. Also inquire about lessons--preferably within a group, where beginners generally do better. Check your local library or bookstore for books on the subject, several of which have already been published.

Finally, if you decide to try it out, learn the rules of the road for roller bladers:

(1) Stay alert and be courteous at all times;

(2) Control your speed;

(3) Skate on the right side of paths, trails, and sidewalks;

(4) Overtake pedestrians, cyclists, and other skaters on the left--and call out "Passing on your left" before doing so, and only when there is plenty of room;

(5) Avoid wet or oily surfaces, and look out for traffic, weather, and surface hazards;

(6) Stay off streets with heavy traffic, and obey all motor vehicle regulations when you do skate in the street;

(7) Always give way to pedestrians;

(8) Wear full safety equipment;

(9) Develop skills in speed control, turning, downhill braking, and recognition of surface obstacles before trying out skating trails.

And have fund!
COPYRIGHT 1991 Benjamin Franklin Literary & Medical Society, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:roller blading
Publication:Medical Update
Date:Jun 1, 1991
Words:474
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