The beach can be used for more than just a lounging area on your summer vacation. That granular material you’re used to laying on has the potential to change the way your body looks and moves. You just need to take off your shoes and put in the work. Here are some ways you can use sand to your advantage during a workout — so you have no excuses to not be active while you’re away.
Soft sand running gives you more resistance as your feet sink down an inch or two, making for a harder workout. According to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, walking on sand requires you to expend 2.1 to 2.7 times more energy than walking on a hard surface at the same speed; while running on sand requires you to expend 1.6 times more energy than running on a hard surface.
Since your feet and legs are doing more work on sand, it is a great way to speed train. Once you hit the pavement, you'll find yourself running faster and with less fatigue. Look out, fall marathoners!
Running on soft sand strengthens your calves since you are running more on the balls of your feet. Because it engages the arches of your feet, it’s a great way to prevent plantar fasciitis.
If you’re a newbie to sand running, start down near the water for a firmer footing, and then move up higher toward the dry stuff as your body gets used to the surface.
Running is not the only way to get fit in the sand. Studies say that plyometric training on sand improved both jumping and sprinting ability and induced less muscle soreness than when performed on grass surfaces. Just like soft sand running, plyometrics on sand improves your muscle's reaction time, making you quicker on harder surfaces.
Try this 15-minute lower body beach workout from Men’s Health.
If you're with a friend, Active.com suggests piggy back races. Jump up on your partner's back and run toward the ocean. When a wave knocks you off your feet, head back to shore and switch positions. The goal is to see who can make it the farthest without getting knocked over. It sounds silly, but it's hard work and a ton of fun!