Is Ice Skating Good Exercise?

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We lead a pretty active lifestyle and love to get exercise outdoors regardless of season, so we wanted to know “Is Ice Skating Good Exercise”? Because we have a Type 1 Diabetic grandson we also wanted to know if ice skating was something he could participate in.

In Canada, winter offers a wide range of activities that we are unable to do in summer. Winters can be pretty cold, with plenty of snow and ice around.

Possible winter activities can include tobogganing/sledding, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, downhill skiing, and of course ice skating.

Ice skating is one of the most common winter activities. We do have arenas where the ice is prepped and temperatures are controlled so you can skate even on the coldest of days.

A lot of us enjoy shoveling the snow off a section of a pond or lake and skating on natural ice. It isn’t as smooth as the prepared ice in the arenas which makes it more challenging but still fun.

And some of us even make a backyard rink to have fun skating at home.

It is great fun wherever you choose to skate so let’s take a look at whether or not it is healthy for a Type 1 Diabetic.


Health Benefits of Ice Skating

The simple answer to that question is yes, ice skating is very healthy for several reasons which we will explore.

Because ice skating involves gliding across a slippery ice surface on a steel blade it helps develop and improve your balance, it doesn’t take long to learn to stay upright on the ice.

Ice skating emphasizes quick foot movements and develops strong knees and increased flexibility.

By focusing on leg movement ice skating develops and tones leg muscles over time.

One huge benefit of ice skating is that you get a great cardio workout without even realizing it because you are having so much fun.

Ice skating requires energy over an extended period of time which improves your endurance.

Ice skating is a fun way to burn calories and depending on how hard you skate you could burn between 300-650 calories per hour making it a great tool for weight management.

It is well known that physical exercise can reduce stress so here is another plus for ice skating.

Being out in the fresh air and sunshine goes a long way to maintaining strong mental health as well.

Because ice skating is accomplished by gliding across the ice it can be easier on the joints and muscles than running because there is no impact.

As you can see there is a multitude of reasons why ice skating is beneficial to a healthy lifestyle and it is a lot of fun.


Risks of Ice Skating

As with any sport, there is always some risk involved. It is important to understand the risks and learn safety precautions.

Is Ice Skating Good Exercise - falling on the ice

  • Ankle sprains and fractures – all ankle injuries need to be seen by a doctor to ensure a correct diagnosis, proper healing, and to prevent permanent damage.
  • head injuries – a fall on hard ice can cause a concussion or brain damage which is why wearing a helmet is strongly advised
  • ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tears and knee injuries – the ligament is known as the ACL is crucial to the knee’s ability to bear weight and our bodies ability to run, jump and pivot, get any knee injury checked out by a doctor
  • Lacerations (cuts) – it is the combination of sharp blades, slippery ice, and fast speeds that puts skaters at risk of serious cuts
  • hand and wrist injuries, or breaks – it is instinctual to put our hands out when we feel we are falling, this can cause our hand or wrist to take too much impact and weight causing a sprain or break. Get hand and wrist injuries diagnosed by a doctor.
  • If skating on outdoor natural ice there is always the risk of fall-through, learning to test the ice and how to get back out of the lake afterward is important.

A few simple precautions such as wearing a helmet, elbow and knee pads, and taking a beginner skating lesson can easily help you avoid the risks.

If skating on natural outdoor ice be sure to test for thin ice with your test stick and be sure you know how to get back on the ice in the event of a fall-through.


Is Ice Skating Safe For A Type 1 Diabetic

Type 1 Diabetics can certainly enjoy ice skating and the fun it offers with just a few extra safety precautions.

Be sure to test Blood Glucose before ice skating and make any required adjustments before ice skating.

If blood glucose is too high or too low avoid skating until blood glucose is within target ranges as set forth by your doctor.

It is important to check blood glucose levels more frequently during ice skating so you can learn how your body reacts.

Be sure to have a fast-acting sugar snack readily available in the case of a low.Is Ice Skating Good Exercise - Melinda Prévost

Be aware of other skaters and skate blades to avoid getting cut by your own or someone else’s skate blade.

Take all safety precautions mentioned above such as wearing a helmet, elbow, and knee pads.

With frequent monitoring and proper safety precautions, ice skating can be a fun and safe form of winter exercise for everyone including a Type 1 Diabetic.

I came across an incredible article by Melinda Prévost who is a Canadian women’s elite hockey player who also struggles with Type 1 Diabetes, check out her story here.


Types of Ice Skating

Is Ice Skating Good Exercise - figure skating

Skating is such a popular activity that there are different types of skating.

The differences are even broader than just leisure and professional skating.

There is figure skating which involves years of training, practicing, and competing. It is a graceful, highly-skilled, physically demanding, and highly competitive sport.

Hockey skating involves high speeds and quick maneuverability. Again this requires a lot of coaching, practicing, and highly competitive games that are physically demanding.

Then there is speed skating. This is highly competitive and involves extreme speed and competition. It will take years of coaching to master this type of skating.

The most common is, of course, leisure skating which offers great exercise and a lot of fun.


Types of Skates

Just as there are different types of skating, there are also different types of skates for each purpose.

Figure skates have leather or molded boot with a steel blade with picks at the toe of the blade. These picks are used for performing jumps and various other tricks. The edges of the blades are sharpened to make clean specific lines in the ice during competitions.

Hockey Skates typically have leather or molded boot with a blade a little thicker than what is typically on a figure skate and does not have a pick. These skates are kept incredibly sharp to slice through the ice at great speeds.

Speed Skates tend to have a lower boot than a figure or hockey skate and the blades are longer to allow for smoother, faster gliding. This is an important design element in being able to achieve long-distance speed as opposed to the short distance speed required for hockey.

Double Runner Skate is a kids skate that has a leather or molded boot and two blades close to each other to help very young children learn to balance on skates.

Bob skates typically strap onto winter boots and are great for toddlers ready for their first skate.

I have found quite a selection of ice skates on Amazon. Just click on the image below and check it out.


Is Ice Skating Good Exercise - skate


As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small affiliate fee from qualifying purchases for sharing the information. This does not increase the cost that you pay for the item, in some cases, you may pay less if I share a special discount price.



As you can see ice skating is a great way to get fresh air and exercise in the winter for anyone choosing to live an active and healthy lifestyle.

While there are risks those can be minimized with education and safety equipment.

A Type 1 Diabetic can certainly participate in ice skating as long as they check their blood glucose levels before, during, and after according to their doctor’s recommendations.

As you can see from Melinda’s story, Type 1 Diabetes does not have to prevent you from enjoying ice skating or playing hockey.

So why not grab a pair of skates and head outdoors for some fun and exercise.

Thanks for dropping by, please leave your comments and questions below.

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12 thoughts on “Is Ice Skating Good Exercise?”

  1. Rick,
    It’s heartwarming to see the time and effort you put into educating yourself and others on dealing with Type 1 diabetes as a grandparent of a child with the illness. Continue to find role models like Melinda to challenge and inspire your grandson and your readers

    • Thank you Bob I really appreciate your wonderful support. I believe as parents/grandparents we should do everything we can to raise our kids to the best they can be which is hard enough to convince what most would call a normal child.

      When a child stands out among their peers as “not like the rest” they can become to feel like they are less worthy then others and I believe with the right amount of support that child can excel beyond their own expectations. That child can learn at a young age that there are hurdles in life we have to deal or live with and that life is not always perfect.

      Thank you so much for dropping by Bob,
      All the best

  2. Thanks for sharing this article. This brings back memories for me as I used to skate since the age of 5 (over 40 years ago!) in Queens Ice Club in London. I remember the feeling of buying my first figure skates, I had about 3 or 4 before moving to Hockey Skates but as Queens Ice Club didn’t allow hockey blades we had to change the blades to figure blades on Hockey Boots! Those were the days. Do you do any skating yourself ?

    • Thanks for the comment Mo. I also began skating at an early age, mostly playing pond hockey which is quite popular here in Canada. I had plans to go skating with our grandson with his class but the Corona virus put a stop to those plans. Hopefully we will be able to go next winter but on our own time, not the schools. We enjoy a plethora of winter sports to get us outdoors and active year round. Take care.

  3. As someone who has a diabetic father, I can completely relate to this article and I felt your passion in ice skating and your willingness to help people. The article is well-detailed, complete, and on-point and made me really interested. I think I remember a handful of ice-skating sites here in the Philippines, I might not be able to do it, but I hope my sons and daughter will take up ice-skating.

    • Thanks for the comment. Ice skating is a great family activity. Perhaps you and your children could learn together if you have a place nearby to go to. It is a really fun way to get exercise whether you are diabetic or not.

  4. I love this article! I live in Alaska so I know all about those cold winters hehe. My children have had to adjust to the new winter type of activities because we are originally from California. So learning that ice skating can burn that many calories is something I am excited about for next winter. I will have to get some of that protective gear for when we fall lol. Thanks for this article!

    • Thank you Melissa for the great comment. Ice skating is a very fun way to get exercise in winter. If skating on an outdoor rink or frozen lake or pond be sure to dress in layers so as you heat up from exercise you can remove some layers. The last thing you want to do in frigid temperatures is get your clothing damp because of sweating. That would only make you colder in the end and then you risk hypothermia. I am curious why you moved from a lovely warm climate to a more extreme climate? A lot of us Canadians choose to spend at least a part of each winter somewhere warm and sunny, away from the snow and ice. Have fun and stay safe.


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