What comes to mind when you hear the word “sand”? Oftentimes, sand makes us think of tropical island getaways or the thing we dig our toes into as we watch the waves crash on the beach.
Sometimes, though, this word comes to mind when we think of outdoor workouts. Contemplating sand as a platform for your next exercise could actually have incredible benefits.
Benefits of Sand Workouts
Taking your exercise outdoors can have a tremendous impact on your overall health. Not only does choosing outdoor workouts save you on costly gym memberships, but it can boost your physical and mental health.
More Calories Burned
When athletes go out to run on sand, they soon realize that they are exerting far more energy than on their average runs. That is because exercising on sand is said to exert about 1.6 times more energy than exercising on grass.
This results in an increase in calories burned. Working out on sand is one of the best ways to maximize your results, especially if you are crunched for time between work and social engagements.
Improvement of Balance
Sand is naturally a less stable surface than most other workout platforms. Whether you’re accustomed to running on a paved trail or a treadmill, you are typically not activating the same stabilizing muscles that you would when running on sand. Exercising on sand targets muscles that could otherwise be neglected, improving balance and stability.
Sand provides the shock absorption that other workout surfaces lack. Over years of training, running and other forms of exercise can wear on your joints. Sand is a low-impact surface that can protect from serious injury to the knees or back.
More Vitamin D
The benefits of vitamin D are numerous, yet many of us are lacking the appropriate levels that we need. Exercising on the beach exposes the body to UVB rays that deposit vitamin D to us.
By changing something as simple as your workout environment, you could decrease depression and increase fat burning and muscle building.
Exercising on sand exposes you to fresh air and sunlight. The combination of these two elements is known to increase the levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin stabilizes and improves mood, potentially leading to reduced stress and anxiety levels.
Different Types of Sand Workouts
Changing your workout environment doesn’t have to mean changing your preferred workout. Most exercises can also be performed on sand.
Here are a few workouts to try on the beach:
As we’ve previously stated, working out on sand increases balance. Yoga is known to improve balance and stability, which are both boosted by the uneven surface of the sand.
Add to that the calming sound of the ocean, and now you have an optimal environment for yoga. Join a beach yoga class or enjoy the serenity of a solo yoga session.
If you do choose to practice yoga, be sure to have the right gear that can allow for flexibility, like garments infused with four-way stretch fabric technology.
Running on the sand protects the knees from injury and challenges the body in new ways. While choosing to run barefoot or with shoes is entirely up to you, opting to run barefoot may increase the effectiveness of your workout.
Where on the beach you choose to run will determine your difficulty level. For an easier run, try running closer to the water where the waves have left behind a flat surface. The packed sand offers less resistance, allowing greater distance and speed.
Choosing to run higher up on the beach where the sand is softer will bring added difficulty and greater resistance. Running on the soft sand will result in more calories burned. So if you’re up for the challenge, this terrain is for you.
Sand volleyball offers all the health benefits of indoor volleyball with the added benefits of working out on sand. Playing sand volleyball requires the leg muscles to work two and a half times harder than on a flat surface such as an indoor volleyball court. The sand increases the calories burned while also toning the legs.
Sand volleyball improves balance. Shape up your skills on the sand for improved health and a better indoor volleyball game. The unsteady surface of the sand requires greater balance and focus. Over time, these skills will be developed after repeated practice on the sand.
Sand volleyball is also a great way to work out with others. Sports are a sure-fire way to burn calories and increase heart rate while enjoying time with friends.
Sprints are one of the best exercises for fat burning. When moved to the sand, they can increase strength in the ankles and the legs. Sprinting on the sand also increases heart rate and results in a higher number of calories being burned.
Maybe strength training is your preferred mode of exercise. However, the thought of lugging heavy dumbbells out to the beach may be rather unappealing. Luckily, the sand itself offers all you need for an effective strength training workout.
Performing bodyweight workouts on sand can increase the difficulty while also increasing the effectiveness. Exercises such as squats, push-ups, and planks are great bodyweight workouts to do on the sand because they require more balance.
If you are looking to increase the difficulty of your workout, you can fill sand buckets to create something similar to a dumbbell. Using sand buckets offers the flexibility to increase or decrease your weight without having to bring multiple sets of dumbbells with you to the beach. Add wet sand for a more difficult lift or take sand out for a lighter load.
Shoes vs. No Shoes
Now that we have established the benefits of exercising on sand, let’s take a look at how to properly dress or not dress your feet for sand workouts.
Maybe the sight of sand has you throwing off your shoes in eager expectation of its warmth and softness on your feet. Aside from the comforting feeling of sand on your feet, exercising barefoot on sand has some benefits.
Running barefoot increases the strength of your feet and ankles because your feet move with all the dents and divots in the sand. Running barefoot also allows you to experience the full range of motion in your feet.
Exercising With Shoes
While running barefoot will help to build strength in the feet, running with shoes comes with benefits of its own.
Running on the beach with shoes provides greater protection for your otherwise vulnerable and exposed feet. Sand can hide painful objects such as broken shells or glass. Wearing shoes allows you to work out with peace of mind that your feet will remain protected.
Exercising with shoes can also protect the ankles from any sprains that could occur while running without support.
Whether or not you choose to exercise barefoot on the sand is up to you. With or without shoes, the sand will still provide the platform for a challenging and rewarding workout.
Are there benefits to working out on sand?
Exercising on sand has numerous health benefits. Sand increases balance by working muscles that are not typically used. Working out on sand also burns more calories because the sand makes movement more difficult. Sand also provides protection for joints because it is a softer surface.
Can working out on the beach improve my mood?
Working out on the sand is said to improve your mood. Notably, outdoor exercises expose the body to vitamin D, which can alleviate symptoms of depression. Outdoor workouts can also increase the production of serotonin that decreases stress and anxiety.
What types of exercise can be done on the beach?
Sand creates an environment suited for almost any type of workout. Sprinting and running are some of the most popular exercises performed on sand.
Many also enjoy sand volleyball as a way to exert energy and fit in an effective workout while having fun. Yoga and strength training are also a few other exercises that can be performed on the sand.
Should you exercise on the sand barefoot?
There are pros and cons to exercising barefoot. Exercising barefoot on sand can increase strength in your feet and ankles while allowing for a greater range of motion.
On the other hand, exercising with shoes can provide protection from shells on the beach as well as potential ankle sprains. Because both have benefits, the decision is up to you.
Exercising on sand is one of the most beneficial options for outdoor workouts. Sand offers a wide array of benefits for the body. Exercising on the beach can improve physical health by increasing balance, burning more calories, and offering a low-impact surface.
This form of workout can also improve mental health due to exposure to sunlight and fresh air. From sand volleyball to sprints, you can enjoy all your favorite workouts on the beach.