Cool off at the rink

Updated: 2014-08-14 16:00

By Wang Zhenghua(Shanghai Star)

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Cool off at the rink

Balancing act: The keys to skating well are relaxation and technique. [Photo/Shanghai Star]

Cool off at the rink

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Ice skating may not be the first thing that comes to mind in the sweltering heat, but in Shanghai, it's a great way to chill out on a hot summer's day. Wang Zhenghua gets his skates on.

As the mercury hovers around 35 C, what could be more enjoyable than gracefully gliding around on ice with several friends in an indoor rink? Also, if you are looking for a cool venue for a date, an ice rink beats the cinema any day, as skating offers the opportunity to hold hands and lots of body contact to help each other stay upright.

Even for those not on a date, ice skating has become a popular recreational sport because it is such a fun way to work out. No matter if you go alone or with family or friends, you will find it is more enjoyable than the monotonous routines you go through in a gym.

Just like swimming, walking or jogging, ice skating is a low-impact exercise that offers multiple health benefits.

It improves one's cardiovascular health, and has a positive effect on overall health, says Li Wei, a former winter Olympian who is now a skating instructor at Harbin Institute of Physical Education.

"It is the best harm-free exercise and can improve the functioning of the immune system," he says.

Also, with ice skating one has the advantage of never having to worry about leg strains, unlike many other exercise activities, unless the skater undertakes movements such as jumps, Li says.

"It helps improve the cardio system, and boosts your strength and flexibility", he says.

Skating can also improve concentration, reduce stress and aid weight loss.

While falling is all part of the learning process, you can avoid injury by taking lessons. Wear a helmet for better protection when you fall backwards and hit your head.

Ice skating is a sport suitable for almost all age groups, though people above 50 may not be as flexible as their younger peers and should be more cautious on the ice, says Li.

For beginners, roller skating is a good way to start as it shares many of the same techniques, Li says.

Liu Xinyou, a veteran ice skater, says it can help sculpt a beautiful body shape and improve coordination.

"Just don't expect to act like a pro the first time you step onto the ice or worry too much about falling," he says. "The more you practice, the better you'll be."

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