Kickflips and heelflips, ollies and nollies: Who hasn’t dreamed of dropping in at a skate park and pulling off some tricks?
Skateboarding delivers surprising physical and mental benefits, along with the incredible cool-factor of zipping up, down, and around concrete ramps, stairs, hills, and more. And it’s gaining traction among grownups — some 6.5 million Americans now ride, according to the Sporting Goods Industry Association.
“Physically, skating will make you acutely aware of your body and how it moves,” says Salena Retsos of Erik’s Bike, Board, and Ski Shop in Bloomington, Minn. “It helps develop muscle memory and quick reflexes for a solid foundation. Skating builds endurance and a commitment to perfecting the aesthetic.”
Skateboarding also develops mental strength, dexterity, and a creative perspective on spatial awareness, she adds. “Building yourself up to jump down a stair set takes as much mental strength to ignore the fear as it does to actually jump.”
As with any sport, practice is key. “Take your board everywhere,” Retsos advises. “Practice tricks in your living room, skate to the corner store, have it with you wherever you go, and it will become second nature.”
Cardio, plyometric moves, and resistance exercises can prepare your muscles for the rigors of riding. “Taking your training into the gym is a great way to reduce the chance of injury and recover faster,” says Retsos.
The mind can also benefit from a few simple at-home exercises, including meditation and visualization.
“Skateboarding is the most radical sport in the world,” says James “Swamp Trog” Kaul, a ramp builder and skateboarding expert at 3rd Lair Skate Park in Golden Valley, Minn. “It takes discipline, strength, and endurance — and it’s a release, no matter what’s happening in your life. It’s truly a medicine you can only experience through participating.”