It’s summer time! Summer requires a tight sexy body. And what better way to get in shape and enjoy the beautiful sights and sounds indigenous to the beach than by enjoying a run through the sand at sunset?
Besides feeling the sand between your toes and the sun on your face, research shows there are quite a few health benefits of running on the beach.
1. Beach running provides a more intense workout than running on a hard flat surface does
According to Dr. Thierry M. Lejeune of St. Luke’s University Clinics in Belgium, running on sand requires 1.6 times the energy that running on a hard surface requires, and your body has to work harder to respond to external modifications. And when you compare running on sand with running on concrete, gravel and grass in terms of calories consumed, running on sand is clearly a more intensive workout and burns more calories.
The reason for this is that the muscles perform more mechanical work when running or walking on sand than on a hard surface, and your foot works harder to displace sand, and the muscles don’t function quite as efficiently. For example when running in wet sand you may slip a bit and have to fight the friction; this adds to the difficulty of the workout.
It comes down to simple physics. Moving through sand is harder than moving over a flat smooth surface. The harder an activity is to perform the more energy you expend.
2. Beach running is easier on your knees and joints
Running is a high-impact sport. In general, it puts stress on your knees, ankles and feet which can mean achy joints, irritated tendons, and other running-related injuries. And the harder the surface, the more stress you put on your joints and tendons
One of the benefits of running on the beach is that the surface is softer and more malleable than concrete which translates into less knee and joint pain. Running on sand forces our smaller, stabilizing muscles in the knees, ankles, and feet to work harder than running on roads or grassy surfaces. Plus, since sand is soft, you can run on the surface with a lower risk of sustaining impact injuries–such as shin splints.
3. Running on the beach improves overall athletic ability
Another one the great and surprising benefits of running on the beach is that it makes you stronger, faster and improves your balance.
Dr. R. Amadeus Mason, a team physician for USA Track and Field and an assistant professor of orthopedics likens beach running to “running with weights on your ankles. it’s harder to get your foot planted into the ground, and it’s harder to get your foot up off the ground.”
Running on the beach adds an element of resistance training and engages muscles differently than they are accustomed to being used. Your entire body has to work harder not just your legs. Your arms have to pump harder to help propel you forward your core tightens and contracts faster and harder to give you the necessary stability you need. And all the extra work makes the heart pump faster and harder in an effort to supply all of your muscles with clean oxygenated blood. The result is a stronger and more efficient body.
4. Running on the beach provides a phenomenal lower body workout
When the sand moves beneath your feet it engages your ankles, arches and calves and causes them to become stronger. A study published in the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research,” found that, both road running and sand running increases vertical jumping ability and thigh circumference. However, those who participated in sand running experienced the most physiological and performance changes.
5. Beach running provides a more comprehensive workout in a shorter time span
One of the most significant benefits of running on the beach is you increase the benefits of exercise while being able to shorten the duration of the workout. When you run on the beach you:
- Burn more calories in a shorter time span
- Add resistance training to your workout
- Raise the intensity level of the work out
- Build both strength and endurance simultaneously.
Tips for a successful beach run
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when beginning beach running:
- Run on wet sand
- Try to run during falling or low tide
- When you first begin running in sand, wear shoes and then gradually work up to running barefoot.
- Pace yourself–begin with short runs and then increase the time as your body adjusts
- Wear lots of sunscreen
- Watch closely for sharp objects such as rocks, seashells, metal and glass in your path especially when running barefoot
- Listen to your body–when you first begin running on the beach you will experience some soreness as your body becomes accustomed to functioning a bit differently. However, if you feel real pain or intense tenderness or fatigue stop and rest.
Featured photo credit: SwapnIl Dwivedi via unsplash.com