Ice skating is a fun fitness activity for all ages. And it's easy to learn how!

Ice Skating: Fun and Fitness for All Ages

There’s still time to learn to ice skate this winter!! Ice skating isn’t just for kids, and it isn’t just for fun, either. In fact, this traditional winter sport is great exercise, providing the same cardiovascular workout as running. Here are just a few of the health and fitness benefits 0f ice skating:

Greater endurance: Ice skating is a slow burn, requiring sustained energy and endurance. And the cooling effects of the ice make it possible to keep going longer than you would under hot temperatures. Endurance built through ice skating will help with running, hiking, dancing and other activities as well.

Increased muscle strength: Have you ever noticed the thigh muscles of Olympic skaters? Ice skating requires power, strengthening the muscles of the lower and upper legs, and works the glutes, hips, and arms as well. In fact, skating works almost every major muscle group in the body.

Better balance: Learning to stay upright while navigating across a slippery surface is a balancing act and you’ll quickly notice an improvement in your ability to stay upright.

Burning calories:  Ice skating is an intense workout, burning 300 to 650 calories per hour, depending on how hard you skate.

More energy: Ice skating is exhilarating once you get the hang of it, and the intense concentration and focus required is great for banishing stress and the winter blues.

Even if you’ve never ice skated before, or it’s been years since you’ve been on the ice, you can get up and skating again in no time with a free “Learn to Skate” class at San Francisco’s Union Square Ice Rink.

Presented by Kaiser Permanente, these weekend classes offer beginners the opportunity to become comfortable and confident on the ice, and former skaters the chance for a refresher.

Lessons are free with advance sign up here, and include skate rentals.  They’re offered every Saturday and Sunday from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Space is limited, and reservations will be released one week in advance.

Instruction will include forward skating, the snowplow stop, and the proper way to fall and get up. Afterwards you’ll have the chance to test out your new skills in a free half-hour skating session.

The Union Square ice rink is open from Wednesday, Nov. 1 through Monday, Jan. 15, 2018.

Melanie Haiken writes about health, wellness and fitness for national magazines and websites. She specializes in discovering and reporting the latest research on diet, nutrition, fitness, weight loss and other health-related topics. Her award-winning stories have appeared in Fitness, Shape, Health, Forbes, and other respected magazines. She also contributes health stories to numerous Kaiser Permanente newsletters and other publications.