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Rolling, rolling, rolling: get and stay fit with skating.

LOOKING for a fun and enjoyable way to get a trim, fit and healthy body? Well, it's time to grab your gear and lace up a pair of skates and roll your way to physical fitness. Skating provides a tremendous cardiovascular workout that can be effective for the young--and the young at heart. And it is adaptable to all seasons and can be done indoors or outdoors.

Although skating is a low-impact physical activity, it provides the body with an all-around workout with multiple benefits that fitness experts say are similar to those of running and cycling. It's also a great toning exercise that targets key muscle groups throughout the body. "Skating will get you in great shape physically because it is a workout that challenges the entire body," says Tonia Ward, founder of 2befit personal fit ness training service in the Chicago area. "It is a great cardio workout that helps tone the lower body, and it is easier on the joints and muscles."

This once-recreational sport is growing in fitness popularity due to its affordability and exercise value. Skating, which does not require any membership fees and affords you the opportunity to work out on your own time, is an aerobic exercise that can be done alone or with a group. It is a workout that allows you to enjoy exercising your muscles with each stride.

Richard Humphrey, who has been skating professionally for more than 30 years, says that skating helps to build endurance. Humphrey prefers to spend his leisure time on a new style of outdoor roller skate called the Quadline. Humphrey's agility on traditional four-wheel roller skates inspired Skates.com to create the new in-line skates. Quadlining, Humphrey says, is skating with the stability of a typical roller skate and the speed and glide of an in-line skate. He also loves to dance and has created an exercise routine that allows participants to enjoy great music and perform the latest dance moves on skates, which renders a more intense workout. His rollerdance consists of more than 200 dance steps. "The steps are done in a small space, which makes for a great workout and is excellent for aerobic exercise," says Humphrey. "Physical fitness should be a way of life for all of us. It should be something that we can enjoy."

Whether on a dance floor or a skating trail, skating is a fitness routine that can help to improve balance, flexibility and endurance. It also helps to strengthen muscles.

GREAT CARDIO WORKOUT

Because it is such a fun activity, skating prompts many participants to travel greater distances, which encourages longer workouts and adds to the exercise benefits you gain. Skating also increases lung capacity, which leads to improved endurance. You also will notice that skating increases the heart rate, and consequently strengthens the heart. Fitness experts also say that a consistent 25 minutes of skating, two to three times a week, can gradually turn your body into a fat-burning machine. According to the International In-line Skating Association, skating at 6 mph burns 350 calories per hour, while skating at 10 mph burns 600 calories.

BUILDS AGILITY, STABILITY AND MUSCULAR STRENGTH

Lower back and ab muscles get a workout as well by supporting the body during skating. These muscles stabilize the body's core area, and a solid core area equals better flexibility and balance. The lower back and abdominal muscles also connect the lower body movement to the upper body, which maintains firmness in the hip area and lower body. You'll notice your hamstrings, buttocks and hips feeling firmer and more toned. "That core portion of your body will be working overtime, and you will see an improvement in those muscles as well," says fitness trainer Ward.

OTHER THINGS TO REMEMBER

Warming up and cooling down before and after any exercise is important. Warming up literally raises the temperature in your muscles, stimulates your nervous system and lubricates your joints for maximum flexibility. "Warm-up is very important," says Ward. "Do something that will get the heart rate up and will prepare you for the activity you are about to do." A great way to warm up, advises Humphrey, is jogging briskly or marching in place for about 5 to 10 minutes.

Muscles should be stretched during the cooling-down period, because you are more flexible after working out. Stretching will ensure that your muscles and bones remain strong, and it helps prevent injuries. It is important to stretch your quads, hamstrings, hips, lower back and calf muscles to prevent muscle soreness. Stretching also can reduce muscle cramping.

Fitness experts also recommend that you wear proper protective gear while skating. This helps to prevent injuries from falls. Wrist guards, pads for elbows and knees, and--most importantly--a helmet are highly recommended for any skater. And remember to skate only on smooth surfaces with no debris. Experts also recommend purchasing good-quality skates that fit well and provide adequate ankle support. In addition, it is recommended that skaters always wear sports socks.

Skating can be part of an enjoyable and efficient fitness workout. So, get rolling--and take pleasure in your new firm and toned body.
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Title Annotation:BODY TALK
Author:Johnson, Stephanie N.
Publication:Ebony
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2006
Words:855
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