In-line skating, better known as blading or roller blading, is here just in time for exercisers looking for a low-impact activity to enjoy while strengthening their muscles and improving the function of their hearts and lungs.
More than a million people have bought in-line skates, so-called because the wheels are all in a row, and sales are doubling yearly.
Roller blades are on the feet of both avid and disillusioned runners, cyclists, skiers, ice skaters, tennis and basketball players and injured athletes. They have also attracted many once-sedentary people who thought exercise was incompatible with fun.
Roller blading, which involves no pounding on an unforgiving pavement (unless one falls), was made to order for runners whose knees or feet are beginning to give out.
Once the basics are mastered, it can serve as an aerobic activity that is an excellent fitness enhancer if it is done vigorously for 20-minute intervals.
Studies show that even casual recreational bladers use about 285 calories in half an hour, and adept skaters who go for speed may use 450 calories in 30 minutes of continuous skating. Typically, accomplished runners and cyclists use 300 to 350 calories in the same period.
Bladers are wise to wear protective equipment, including knee and elbow pads, wrist guards and even a lightweight bicycle helmet.
Start skating on a flat, dry surface free of traffic, debris and broken pavement. As in skiing, falls are more likely when muscles are tired.