Lucky enough to be headed to the beach this summer? Bring your walking shoes!
Long walks on the beach aren’t just for the hopeless romantics, but offer a wonderful way to fit some challenging physical activity into your vacation. I recently returned from the beach where I practiced what I’m preaching here and was amazed at how I felt muscles in my legs I was unaccustomed to, even though I routinely walk a lot. So what is the benefit of walking in the sand? With each step you “sink” into the sand, your legs work harder than they would on a hard surface.
ACE Fitness states that “Walking on dry sand requires approximately 2.1 to 2.7 more energy expenditure than walking on a solid surface at the same speed” with softer sand offering even more of a challenge.
More energy expenditure translates to a greater calorie burn. Additionally, there is more balance work involved on this softer surface, improving proprioception, which is your body’s ability to respond to where you are in space and is a component of physical fitness. Beyond just the physical benefits, walking with the breeze of the ocean tends to be considerably cooler than walking inland, with heat being a common complaint I hear regarding summer walking. And emotionally, how therapeutic is it to witness the beauty of the ocean and shoreline on your walking route? Are you an early riser? A sunrise walk can be a really spectacular memory and wonderful start to the day. I recently did this with family, and it was a highlight of the vacation.
Here are some tips to make the most of your beach walks.
1. As I mentioned, bring your walking shoes, rather than go at it in sandals or barefoot, which could lead to blisters or pains resulting from unsupported arches.
2. Bring your water bottle and wear your sunscreen to stay hydrated and protected from sunburn.
3. Consider the tide: walking at extreme high tide will mean softer sand, which is quite challenging and perhaps more than what you were bargaining for. Check the tide charts before you head out to make sure you’ll have some wet, harder sand available at half or low tides.
I hope these tips have you geared up and asking “which way to the beach?!” Enjoy your vacation and your walks!
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– KEELEY MEZZANCELLO, MS, RD, CSCS