Skateboarding can help middle-aged people feel a sense of empowerment as well as boosting happiness and wellbeing, according to research.
The study, by Dr Paul O’Connor, suggests skateboarding can help those in middle age navigate depression, bonds with their children, and personal trials and tribulations.
It also suggests skateboarding opens up access to a new community, in turn helping people experience an identity separate from other parts of life.
Esther Sayers began skateboarding at the age of 47 – now in her early 50s, she says it’s a decision she hasn’t looked back on.
She told Sky News: “I had a couple of years of feeling a bit purposeless in terms of big life goals being completed.
“Adulthood can be quite constricting, you have to look after the home, the family, the job and be this professional expert.
“Skateboarding just fitted in my life at that time because it offered me something else, it offered me a new challenge, it offered me a new chance to learn again.”
She added: “There’s a stereotype that skateboarding is about freedom.
“It is about freedom for me, but it’s also about a load of other things – it’s about pushing myself, challenging myself, taking risks, building my strength emotionally and physically.”
Ms Sayers says the sense of achievement that comes with mastering a new trick is “out of this world”.
At Hop King, a skate park in south London, there is a big focus on making the activity as inclusive as possible for age groups.
Ben Hopkinson, co-founder of Hop King, told Sky News their beginner classes are designed to make people of all ages feel welcome.
They’ve seen a significant increase in the number of older people attending which has resulted in “little communities” within the skatepark being created.
Dr O’Connor said there are several reasons why older people are taking up skateboarding.
He told said for many people, it’s because “they feel like they had missed out” if it’s something they never did when they were younger.
“Fundamentally you’ve got something that’s new, engaging, gives you some exercise, and can plug you into a community.
“It doesn’t solve all your problems that’s for sure but a lot of people find that it’s quite inspiring, that it’s motivational, that it’s a creative outlet.”
Dr O’Connor says the fact you don’t have to score points or win in skateboarding makes it “very open, and people feel that they can progress in their own ability in their own time”.
He added: “There’s a big identity component about skateboarding as well – a lot of people I speak to are accomplished in their career.
“They want to push their identities, they don’t want to be considered just as a colleague or a parent.
“They want to break free of some of the constraints of having to have a routine or a mortgage.”