Once considered a fringe sport, skateboarding has become a mainstream activity for young people all around the world. Besides funky fashion and gravity-defying tricks, skateboarding has plenty of physical benefits — even some your parents can appreciate.
1. “Skateboarding provides flexibility, increases coordination and builds cardiovascular stamina,” writes Gillian Markson in her acclaimed fitness blog. These are a few of the benefits that convinced former pro snowboarder Eric Klassen to develop Skate Pass, a Colorado-based sports program designed to incorporate skateboarding into the curriculums of P.E. classes across the country. Started in 2006, Skate Pass has already been welcomed by schools in 13 states. “Only 10 percent of kids go on and play team sports,” says Oregon physical education teacher Jake Gerig in USA Today. “What about the other 90 percent who are sitting at home playing video games because they’re not star basketball material?” It didn’t take long for Klassen to see the effect his program had on students. Almost immediately, he noticed how it improved their balance, coordination and core strength.
2. According to a study in the April 2006 issue of Pediatrics magazine, skateboarders have better self-esteem than their less active peers. To skaters, that’s about as obvious as the mop of red hair on Shawn White’s head. It takes countless hours of practice for skateboard enthusiasts to master a new trick. Maybe they’ll spend a few weeks learning to pull-off, say, an “Ollie” — a sick maneuver where the skater soars into the sky with his board flush against the soles of his sneakers. Imagine the feeling of accomplishment that comes after landing a leap for the first time. It doesn’t go away when you leave the park.
3. Who better to discuss the physical benefits of skateboarding than skaters themselves? “Your quadriceps and calves get a lot of work,” says Trey Street on RedOrbit, a science and health website. “And there are stabilizer muscles that only skateboarding develops.” Adds Canadian skater Steve Garcia, “[You can feel skateboarding] strengthening the ligaments around the knees and ankles.” There’s more: Consider the cardio workout skaters get from pumping their boards up steep hills. Or the balance and coordination required to surf back down.
4. Skateboarding “promotes individuality and creativity,” trumpets Australia’s Kman Skate School on its homepage. Skaters are like artists — every parking lot and stairwell is their next canvas. “You’ve got to visualize in your mind [every] trick before you do it,” says Keith Koller, manager of the Bordertown Skate Shop in Yuma, Arizona. It also takes persistence. During the 1999 X Games, skate-superstar Tony Hawk made 10 unsuccessful attempts at executing the first-ever 900 — two-and-a-half revolutions in the sky. But on the eleventh try he nailed it — and a skateboarding legend was born.