Skateboarding can help those in middle-age better cope with depression and stress, new research has found. It also provides an outlet for older generations to bond with younger family members and loved ones.
In a study of 30 middle-aged skateboarders in Hong Kong and the U.K., Paul O’Connor, a sociologist at the University of Exeter in England, found that skateboarding can take on a “spiritual meaning” for older people who first pick up the sport.
The nature of skateboarding celebrates failures, like when someone falls off their board, as part of growth, O’Connor wrote in a recent report, published in September in the book “Lifestyle Sports and Identities.”
“Skateboarding provides a serious emotional outlet for people who have experienced personal trials in the collapse of long-term relationships, career challenges, parenthood and substance abuse,” he wrote.
It also provides access to community and an avenue of self-expression. According to O’Connor, on more than one occasion, he saw “grown men fighting back tears” when asked what skateboarding meant to them.
“For those I spoke to, skateboarding was more than about looking after physical health,” he wrote. “Indeed, the notion of sport was regarded with caution. To them, skateboarding seemed to mean more.”
For some, their passion for skateboarding was either sparked or rekindled by their children, altering their relationship with the sport.
Still, some experts advise against picking up skateboarding at all, and first-time skaters account for a third of those who visit emergency rooms, according to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Others recommend skaters, particularly older ones, be cognizant of their limitations and prioritize their physical health above all else.
Professional skateboarder Tony Hawk, 53, in March said he had performed his last ollie 540, telling his followers on Instagram that his “willingness to slam unexpectedly into the flat bottom has waned greatly over the last decade.”
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