By Matt Evans published
Are you over 40, and resolved to start a new hobby this year? Maybe you're looking to take up some new fitness-related pursuit, be it dancing, yoga, kickboxing, or even just getting the steps in on your new cross trainer.
But whether you've bought one of the best elliptical machines to park in front of Netflix, or you're still dithering about what you could choose to try this year, here's something that lots more middle-aged people should try: skateboarding.
Yes, skateboarding has a bit of a reputation for creating more injuries than it does to get you fit, but it's a fun outdoor pursuit that requires plenty of core and leg strength, helping with your balance, hand-eye co-ordination and proprioception. More importantly (especially for the dismal January season) it's a great antidote for the symptoms of depression, according to a new study.
The researcher, the University of Exeter's Paul O'Conner, interviewed mid-life skateboarders to identify changing motivations for taking up and continuing to practice skateboarding. Those who skate in mid-life find emotional wellbeing, along with a sense of joy, community, and a spiritual outlet.
Speaking to the Evening Standard, O'Connor said: “For those I spoke to, skateboarding was more than about looking after physical health. Indeed, the notion of sport was regarded with caution. To them, skateboarding seemed to mean more.
“On at least two occasions when I asked informants to try to explain what skateboarding meant to them, I was confronted with grown men fighting back tears, literally lost for words in grasping to communicate the importance and gravitas of their pastime.”
It's theorised that because failure is ingrained into skateboarding as a natural part of the sport, it teaches people to accept failure as part of life's general learning processes. After all, it takes months of practice, and many failed attempts, before landing your first kickflip, just like it takes practice and time served to achieve anything in life. That's a valuable lesson all of us could learn; to accept our failures as part of growth.
It's also possibly the outdoor and extreme nature of the sport, providing that rush of endorphins to keep depression at bay. If you're looking for an outdoor-based sport with significantly less risk of injury, consider picking up a pair of the best trail running shoes.
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and Channel Editor at Fit&Well. He's previously written for titles like Men's Health and Red Bull, and covers all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen kickboxer and runner. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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