Why Electric Skateboarding Is So Fun: The Science Explained
Electric skateboarding keeps us agile, balanced, nimble, and excited and gives us that feeling of exhilaration. Who rides an electric skateboard already felt that, but we dove a little bit deeper to find out why we feel those things while skating. Here is what science has to say!
Let's go for a ride with Sir Isaac Newton. Believe it or not, skateboarding and physics go hand in hand. The simple movement of a skateboard already brings Newton's 3 Laws of Motion: inertia, force and action/reaction. Pulling the accelerator is a classic example of inertia. In this case, the force comes from the motors, which put the board into motion. When riding against the wind, we can literally feel the action/reaction law in real life: "for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction".
Besides Newton's 3 Laws of Motion, modern physics also has an important intrinsic concept of skateboarding: gravity! It pulls us down, no matter how fast or high we are; and knowing that, riders learn ways to maintain balance on the board. While e-skating, all these concepts work together, challenging the rider, and that is why electric skateboards are so much fun.
From the psychological perspective, people need to have their needs met to feel that life is in order and to feel good about themselves. This is called The Needs Model of Well-being, which suggests that humans need 12 essential psychological nutrients of well-being to improve mental health. Alec Stansfield, a psychotherapist and rider, explained that skateboarding triggers many aspects, including the need for control, achievement, emotional connection and mindfulness.
"Many people's image of what mindfulness looks like is sitting quietly and meditating. But mindfulness really means doing things mindfully, paying attention, and being present in the moment. You can't skate safely unless you're totally in the present moment", Alec explained in his video about e-skating and mental health.
We've seen so many examples of these concepts in real life. Riders DM us on social media, telling stories about how electric skateboarding helped them with mental health. One of Evolve's ambassadors, Joanna Shields, is one of those riders who openly shares her experience about it. She struggled with severe social anxiety for years and now uses her electric skateboard not only for commuting but to blow off steam and keep her mental health in check.
"After a few years of being in the dark, feeling so anxious while still maintaining that happy-go-lucky persona, I needed help. At that time, I reached out to my family and worked out a plan; coincidentally, it was when e-skate got into my life. Now, when I'm itching, and I just want to freak out, I'm like, 'Okay, I'm gonna go outside. I'll go for an e-skate sesh. For mental health, for cleaning my mind and getting out of my own head. I think it can really save lives'", explained Joanna.
Another reason why electric skateboarding is so much fun is because human beings need movement. Skateboarding keeps you alert and agile. When the terrain is uncertain, keeping your knees bent is the best way to maintain balance, but that takes some strength and practice. So lots of movement is involved. Board sports are known for improving coordination, endurance, flexibility and strength.
Moving your body releases endorphins, the "feel-good" hormone, which helps us cope with stress. When scientists started to study endorphins, it was believed that only high-intensity exercise triggered it, associating it with the "runner's high". However, in the last two decades, more studies have shown that only moving your body for 30 minutes would release the hormone.
Standing up on a deck and using your weight and body position to navigate across the endless wave triggers the hypothalamus and pituitary glands to release endorphins. That's why riders have a grinning smile after an electric skateboard sesh.
"Man is a social animal" - Aristotle, Philosopher
Sociologists and anthropologists have explored how and why humans need social interaction and its influence on people's personalities. The 'Social Brain Hypothesis" proposed by Robin Dunbar, Professor of Evolutionary Psychology and Behavioural Ecology, analysed how the human neocortex has evolved to improve survival in dynamic groups. Social interactions were some key aspects that helped humans survive and prosper as a species.
Because of the rewarding nature of social interactions, we seek positive social feedback through friendships, romantic relationships, or community engagement. Many researchers have found that social interaction releases dopamine, the "happy hormone". Our brain processes social interactions similarly to when we receive non-social stimuli like food, money, or psychostimulant drugs, triggering dopamine release.
But how does it relate to electric skateboarding? There are so many group rides happening around the globe as electric skateboard riders form a very active, welcoming, and tight-knit community. In these events, you can meet people who share the same passion for the endless wave feeling.
The electric skateboard community has been growing in the last few years. In Australia, the Evolve Skateboards Owners Facebook Group Australia, for example, has more than 6k active members sharing tips, their favourite places to ride, customisation ideas and organising group rides and events. It's a great place to meet new people, interact with other riders, and get that dopamine hit by being part of a community.
Meaning and purpose is about having something that you care about that's bigger than you, something external that motivates you. From the Sociology perspective, electric skateboarding is so enjoyable because of the sense of making an impact and a positive contribution to the community. Many riders have adopted an electric skateboard as their main means of transportation to reduce carbon print and as their way to tackle climate change. Besides the benefits on an individual level, researchers have shown that when people change their habits in favour of something that can have a major impact on future generations, their sense of belongingness and contribution increases, triggering the dopamine release.