Inline skating is a really great low-impact exercise for aging joints. My main worry for older people, especially women, is bone density. The undeniable truth is that it’s not really a matter of if you fall, but when you fall. If you do have brittle bones or have not been exercising regularly for a few years, the impact of a fall is more likely to lead to injury. This is a serious consideration before going out and buying the gear.
That said, many of my students are in their mid- to late-sixties and some do astonishingly well. I am guessing it’s partly due to the active California lifestyle, but also because they’ve had a lifetime to develop the cumulative balance that is such an asset to the beginning skater. Here are the most common and helpful advantages for beginners of any age:
- Past balance experience: Ice or roller skating translate wonderfully to inline skating (many other activities help too, and it doesn’t matter how long ago or how well you did them)
- Sure-footedness or general agility: There is a definite advantage if you are steady on your feet and have decent balance while standing on one foot.
- Fitness: You need to have a baseline of fitness to be safe on skates. Here is a good test to see if you are fit enough for skating: you must be able to get up off the floor by yourself without help from furniture or another person.
Occasionally—and more so in recent years—the problem of being rigid with fear has prevented some of my students from ever relaxing enough to enjoy the delicious inline stride and glide, even on a flat surface. If you tend to be physically timid, you may want to stick with less athletic sports.
All new skaters can take action to reduce fear and risk, and increase their chances for success. First, there is a subtle confidence that comes from always wearing a helmet along with knee, elbow and wrist guards. Some people wear padded shorts to protect their hips and tailbones.
Do try and find a lesson for your first time out. To find a qualified instructor your area, go to the Inline Instructor search page and enter your state abbreviation. Another option is Camp Rollerblade, which specializes in 5-day learn-to-skate instruction for mature adults. Many of my proudest teaching memories are from people I helped at these camps over the past dozen years!