Skateboarding in middle age helps people navigate depression, bond with their children and cope with personal trials, a study has found.
Older people who take part in the sport say it has a “spiritual meaning” in their lives and boosts their wellbeing and happiness.
Skateboarding allows them access to a community and gives them an identity separate from other parts of their lives.
One reason could be because the measure of success in skateboarding is more fluid compared with other sports, and failure is seen as part of the activity.
Dr Paul O’Connor, from the University of Exeter, carried out 30 interviews with middle-aged skateboarders.
He also observed skateboarding in Hong Kong and the UK, skateboarding himself with communities there.
“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,” Dr O’Connor said.
Many skateboarders had children who had either ignited or rekindled their parent’s passion for skateboarding, and as a result altered the relationship they had with their boards and the skateboarding community.
Dr 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.”
– The study, Identity and Wellbeing in Older Skateboarders is published in the book Lifestyle Sports and Identities.