Originally a mode of transportation, the practice of ice-skating can be dated back to at least 200 A.D., although in all likelihood people partook in the activity well before this date. Today, most people enjoy ice-skating strictly as a winter pastime. However, with the increasing number of indoor rinks cropping up, more and more people are able to benefit from ice-skating all year round.

Family Fun
Skating is a great way for families to spend some time together. Many rinks understand the importance of family time and offer special family rates to help make the activity more affordable. Additionally, a number of rinks offer family skate times so you don’t have to worry about your little one being intimidated by a speedy teenager.

Getting Started
If you or your children are new to skating, you’ll need to find yourself a pair of skates before you get going. Many rinks offer rental skates but if you plan on frequenting a local pond or community rink, you will probably need to bring your own skates. Prices for skates can vary depending on the quality of the skates as well as whether they are new or used.

When you pick out a pair for yourself or your kids, look for a pair that feel snug but are still comfortable. Finding a proper fitting pair is important to help you avoid injury, so make sure the ice-skates also offer a good amount of support.

While bumps and bruises are unavoidable, taking a lesson or two can help you prevent some of those stumbles. Many rinks offer lessons for novices that can teach you how to control your speed as well as how to stop without slamming into the sideboards. Of course, it never hurts to buy a little bit of padding to soften any falls that may happen.

A Fit Family
Ice-skating is a superb form of exercise. Not only is it a great aerobic activity, but you can also strengthen and tone your leg muscles. In addition to working your abdominal muscles a bit, ice-skating will do wonders for your quadriceps, abductors and adductors (those are the muscles at the front and sides of your thighs). Additionally, skating helps to build up your endurance, agility, balance and flexibility while placing very little impact on the joints.

Because you get such a great work out, it is important that you and your family first warm up in advance. Before you get on the ice, do some leg stretches. Once you’re ready to go, start-off skating slowly for five or ten minutes so that your heart rate slowly increases. When you’re ready to get off the ice, spend another few minutes skating slowly around the rink to bring your heart rate back down. And don’t forget to do some more stretching so that you won’t have to deal with sore muscles tomorrow. As with all exercise, make sure you and your family drink lots of water before, during and after your ice-skating session so that no one gets dehydrated.

Now get out there and have some fun!