Inline skating is a great way to get fit and stay fit. Not only does fast inline skating burn calories at about the same rate as running, it gives you the same great outdoor exercise experience as cycling without all of the costs of buying and maintaining a bike. Since it usually uses fluid, gliding strides, it's also a low impact sport that places less strain on your lower body joints than other activities such as tennis and aerobics.
However, if you are already an inline skater, or if you are thinking of taking up the sport, then you need to take appropriate precautions to make sure that you don't end up with a serious injury if you fall or run into another skater. While the sport can be both safe and enjoyable, there are over 16,000 inline skating injuries each year in the United States. A significant proportion of these injuries are due to skaters not wearing proper safety equipment. In fact, the Consumer Product Safety Commission found that up to 66% of inline skaters forgo safety equipment entirely.
If you are serious about staying safe when you are skating, then it is absolutely essential that you buy the right inline skating gear. Obviously, this starts with a good quality pair of inline skates that fit you well and provide the right level of support - otherwise, it is all too easy to end up with a twisted ankle when you fall. It's also important to get the right type of inline skating gear for the type of skating you want to do. It's most likely that you're going to want to buy multipurpose skates, which are sometimes called "recreational" or "cross training/fitness" skates. Avoid buying inline hockey skates unless you really intend to play hockey on them, because they are not going to stand up to rough outdoor surfaces.
Once you have selected the right type of skate, make sure that it really does provide the proper level of ankle support. You can do this by trying to squeeze the plastic of the skate - if you can feel it give, then it's probably not strong enough. Also, check that the skate rises well above your ankle. Also make sure that it is a good fit - your foot shouldn't be able to slide around inside, but the skate should not be so tight that it is uncomfortable. When you try on the skates, remember to put on the same socks that you are planning to wear when you are skating - otherwise, you may find that the skates end up being too tight once you are actually using them.
In addition to a good pair of skates, you should also buy high-quality protective equipment - and this starts with a good helmet. If you fall when you are skating, you can hit your head in just the same way that you can if you come off a bicycle. If your helmet is tough and fits well, it can significantly reduce the chances of you ending up with a head or brain injury. Also remember to buy other protective equipment to avoid nasty bumps and scrapes - you will want elbow and knee pads, a light pair of gloves and wrist guards.
If you are just starting out inline skating, then it is a good idea to attend a local course to learn the basics. For instance, you will learn the right stance for skating, which is with your knees bent slightly and your body balanced on the balls of your feet. It's also important to know how to stop - there is no point in coasting out into danger just because you don't know any way of putting on the brakes. Also, before you start to get too adventurous, spend your first few times out skating exclusively on level ground so that you get a feel for skating before you take on anything more challenging.
Finally, once you are out skating, you need to observe some common sense precautions in order to avoid getting hurt or hurting others. Always make sure that you are aware of who is around, since it is likely you will be sharing the same area with pedestrians, cyclists and joggers. Also, if you are skating on sidewalks or bike paths, make sure that you only pass other people once you have warned them and there is enough room for you to get by safely. Finally, don't skate on the street - you wouldn't walk down the middle of a busy road, so don't skate down one.