Summer is here! In previous summers, you spent a lot of time on the beach. You put a towel on the sand, sat down, and relaxed. Sometimes, you read a book. Sometimes, you took a nap. Periodically, you ventured out into the ocean. Mostly, you just talked to your friends as you ate and drank.
More often than not, though, you did little or no exercise while you were on the beach. Every year, you spend about nine months exercising so you will look good on the beach and then you gain weight during the summer.
Why don’t you do a beach workout this summer? I’m guessing this never occurred to you, but exercising on the beach is actually a great way to improve your fitness and lose weight. The best way to explain why is to think about the effort you exert when you run, walk or bicycle up a hill as opposed to exercising on a flat surface. Going uphill requires more effort and energy. The more strenuous workout builds your muscles more and burns more calories.
Sand is an obstacle like hills or a rough surface. Exercising on sand requires more effort than exercising on a flat surface. Besides that, sand is near water so you can also go swimming without going very far. In short, exercising on or near sand can be a great workout. “You burn almost twice as many calories working out on the sand as you would doing the same routine on a firmer surface, according to a study recently published in the Journal of Strength Conditioning and Resistance, reported Women’sHealth magazine in the article “5 Exercises to Try On The Beach.”
Besides helping you lose weight, exercising on the sand also builds your leg muscles more than exercising on flat surfaces and causes fewer injuries, according to “Beach Body Workouts: Why exercise is more effective on sandy grounds,” an article in The Times of Northwest Indiana. “Sand is constantly shifting and changing, demanding various muscles in the body to come into play that might not normally engage on a pavement or gym floor workout,” the article reports. Running in the sand is also kinder on the joints than running on pavement because there is less impact on the body.”
Ways to Get a Great Beach Workout
- Walking:What a great way to exercise while also enjoying the beauty of the shoreline. Why don’t you take a camera and snap photos of the beach and the ocean (or Gulf of Mexico if you live in that area)? Walking 4 miles per hour burns an average of 334 calories per hour if you weigh 155 pounds, according to the Harvard Health Publications report “Calories burned in 30 minutes for people of three different weights.” Please remember that the Harvard report is based on the average exercise and you burn twice as many calories exercising on sand.
- Running: The Women’sHealth magazine article suggests alternating running and skipping. The article points out that your feet sink into the sand when you run so you have to exaggerate the movements of your arms to raise your feet off the ground. Consequently, the exercise strengthens your shoulders and arms as well as your knees and the front and back of your legs. Running is also the best weight-loss exercise. Running only 5 mph burns 596 calories per hour in 155-pound people — and that’s on flat surfaces.
- Beach Volleyball: In the past, you have just sat on the beach with your friends. Why don’t you persuade your friends to participate in a game of beach volleyball. If you watch the Olympics, you know that you only need two or four players to play a game, while indoor volleyball requires six players per team. It should come as no surprise that beach volleyball burns far more calories than indoor volleyball — 596 calories per hour in 155-pound people vs. 298 calories per hour in a gym.
- Swimming: Swimming is one of the best weight-loss exercises. It can burn up to 818 calories per hour in 155-pound people, the Harvard report says. Swimming in the ocean, though, can be dangerous. Large waves can pull you underwater for a long time. That happened to me when I was 12. A surfer rescued me. You should swim near the shore if you’re inexperienced at ocean swimming. Experienced swimmers should ask a lifeguard about that day’s wave conditions and heed his or her advice about how close to stay to the shore. “Some beaches also have a flag system that shows the wave condition,” reports the Livestrong.com article “Ocean Swimming Dangers.”
- Frisbee: Sometimes, light-hearted fun is the most appropriate kind of exercise. Throwing and catching a frisbee is fun — and bystanders often get involved in the fun. Playing frisbee burns 224 calories per hour in 155-pound people, the Harvard report says. You need to burn 3,500 calories to lose a pound, but frisbee is so fun you might play long enough (over a few days) to lose that pound.