Summer. It’s a great time of the year. The days are longer, winter’s finally over, and it’s time to get outside for exercise. But when it’s 99 degrees and 99 percent humidity out, the thought of running in the blistering heat feels impossible.
From heat cramps to heat stroke to severe dehydration, the idea of running, cycling and training in the summer heat can be very challenging, and if you’re not careful, dangerous. Your heart has to work harder in the heat, and your rate of perceived exhaustion (RPE) increases significantly, even when you’re exercising at a pace that’s normally comfortable for you in cooler weather.
So instead of burning up this summer, be cool. Look for an indoor ice skating rink in your city and go skating. That’s right. Ice skating. In the summer.
If you have a pair of skates, you’re all set. If not, your local indoor skating rink will gladly rent you a pair. You don’t have to bundle up in heavy clothes - indoor rinks are usually quite temperate and comfortable, a great respite from the summer heat. And compared to many forms of exercise, skating offers a number of healthy benefits:
Skating is low-impact. Unlike the pounding your legs take while running on searing hot pavement or concrete, skating is based on gliding. At first, you might feel some soreness from using your muscles in a new way. But that will quickly go away. And your knees will thank you for the punishment you’re not inflicting. Plus, skating uses your leg, hip and other muscles differently, helping to complement other exercises you may be doing.
Skating is highly aerobic. And a great calorie burner. If you’ve ever watched hockey players, figure skaters or speed skaters, you can see that skating is a total body exercise. It’s fantastic for your heart, lungs and endurance. While many people go to the rink just for the fun of it, if you skate fast laps or race up and down the rink’s length, you can easily burn 600-700 calories per hour. The cardio benefits can be immense.
Skating can build strength in your legs and hips. If you’ve ever looked closely at the legs of speed skaters, hockey players or competitive figure skaters, you’ll quickly notice their legs: strong, shapely and lithe. While skating involves a lot of gliding, the pushing and balance required can quickly build the strength in your legs and hips, especially your hamstrings and quadriceps. You'll also build up your abdominal and lower back muscles maintaining your balance on the ice, while improving your joint flexibility.
Skating can improve your balance and coordination. Few sports can improve your balance and coordination better than ice skating. Racing around an icy surface on a razor thin edge can be challenging at first, but you can quickly build strength in your legs and hips while dramatically improving your reactions and balance. As we age, maintaining balance becomes a bigger issue, and having stronger legs, hips and improved coordination can be a significant help in your later years.
Skating is fun. I’ve beaten the heat on many torrid summer days skating laps around my local indoor rink. Often, you can have the place to yourself. Training on skates to your favorite tunes is a blast. It’s even more fun skating with someone you love.
So break the summer blues and do the cool thing. Instead of melting down trying to run in the summer inferno, head down to your local skating arena and rip laps on the ice. It’s a great break from your normal exercise routine, and can make your workouts more fun.
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