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Ice skating is not the first sport that comes to mind when thinking about South African sporting achievement. Yet, as News24 highlights, Cape Town native Tanika van As has taken the world by storm in just that discipline. Ice skating is typically held as a sport played in colder countries; it makes sense, given that you would have natural ice in the winter months through which a culture can be built up. However, the accessibility and increasing popularity of ice-based sports is fostering a new generation of skilled athletes that are harnessing the huge benefits that you can gain from getting on the rink.

More accessible than ever

Ice rinks are few and far between in South Africa; educational and recreational resource has only listed two, in Durban and Cape Town. This would be a major sticking point for those potentially interested in ice sports were it not for the ever-increasing range of synthetic ice surfaces. Of particular interest are a new generation of self-lubricated locking ice plates, which could just as easily be deployed by a local business as they could by someone in their own home. What’s also great is that synthetic ice is easy to clean; this makes ice rinks a far more accessible proposition than perhaps they were previously were, and that presents a fantastic new option for athletes – whether professional or amateur.

Physical benefits of skating

Ice skating is an all-in-one workout comparable to swimming or HIIT. As Vogue outlines, it primarily trains both your aerobic and anaerobic systems, providing fat-burning in addition to cardiovascular benefits. On top of that, the balance and poise required to skate properly are demanding on your core strength and the flexibility of your body. Staying upright on the ice, fighting against the lack of friction, and then pulling off showstopper moves will all help to develop your physical strength. This is akin to rolling in a Pilates session with a tough cardio session, for instance in soccer, all in one.

Social and mental benefits

Ice skating provides several benefits to mental health. A study published in the Journal of Disability and Rehabilitation found that ice skating improved a number of mental factors in children, and in children with hearing impairment, could help to aid recovery and boost confidence. The same factors are present for adults. Ice skating is a physical pursuit, and you will at least have those benefits. On top of that, ice skating in South Africa is a very tight-knit affair. The community is largely made of enthusiasts, and that means you’ll be dropping head-first into a ready-made and supportive community. Ice skating therefore provides not only mental health benefits, but social ties, too.

Choosing ice skating as a sport will help you follow in the footsteps – or skate tracks – of Tanika van As. You might think an ice rink is the last piece of sporting equipment you’d see in South Africa, but it’s actually there to be used and enjoyed. Ice skating is more accessible than ever and there to be enjoyed.

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