INside Story

Doctor: Skating holds health, mental benefits

A centuries-old activity is gaining renewed momentum.

Roller skating, once considered something for the posh and wealthy, has undergone a transformation with Black skating culture leading the trend. There’s evidence that the Indianapolis Black skate culture goes back roughly 70 years or more.

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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — So, we’ve established roller skating is fun.

But, other, maybe even bigger, benefits include skaters’ health, particularly as it relates to common health issues impacting minority communities.

Most adults know that putting on skates hurts the thighs, the shins and probably a little bit of everything. But, doctors say, if you can keep it up, the body and mind will thank you.

Skating, there’s an art to it, but it’s also a sport that gives skaters of all ages a full body workout.

Charlo Burrell, who still takes to the floor with his son not far behind. “I actually started in the ’70s, the early ’70s,” Burrell said. “Well, I’m going on 63 and I still come, so, yeah, absolutely, it does, you know, it helps out, helps your psyche.”

Licensed addiction counselors sometimes take their work home, and the weight of the day lingers. Burrell said, “So, there’s a lot of mental things that I have to deal with helping people, and so when I come out here this is my medicine.”

It’s a good medicine, says Dr. Arnold Henry, an avid skater who specializes in sports medicine. He says a lot of the health issues impact the Black community. They include heart disease, cancer, strokes, heart attacks, and diabetes. Skating helps fight them, the doctor says.

“The endorphins, the hormones that are released, that comes with with exercise also. So, yes, you do increase oxygen uptake,” Henry said. “With exercising, more oxygen goes to those parts of the body. That you’re using more, more circulation goes to the organs, which means those organs can operate a lot more efficiently.”

Skating burns much more calories compared to just walking.

The doctor said the food rooted in Black culture also tends to create health concerns. So, skating combats high cholesterol, helps decrease plaque around the arteries, and exercises heart muscles.

“So, definitely the health benefits behind with exercise can combat those risk factors that encompass our culture,” Henry said.

The doctor agrees with Burrell in applauding the mental health benefits that come with the freedom on wheels.

The doctor said, “It helps to combat anxiety, depression. It gives you more energy. It helps you sleep better. It gives you a better mood.”

The fun of it is a type of medicine itself. Burrell says he won’t be slowing down on it. “It’s my free leave every day there and I’m able to just enjoy myself and just be free.”

The doctor says anyone new to skating should wear protective gear, most importantly a helmet and wrist guards.

Part 5