For many people, when they think of the beach, they consider relaxation, looking out into the ocean, beautiful sand between their toes and just enough sunlight on their faces. If you live near a beach or plan to visit a beach a beach sometime, you would be pleased to learn that going for a walk on the beach also has some surprising benefits.
What makes walking on a beach different from walking at a different location?
Let’s take a look at 7 benefits that people may not really realize exist they could gain from a walk on the beach.
#1 – You burn more calories.
Why could this be beneficial? If you are thinking about weight-loss or simply trying to maintain a healthy life-style and body weight, exercise should definitely be part of the mix. When you exercise, you burn calories. This activity, in combination with a healthy diet, could place you at your optimal body weight and in turn could also provide you with great opportunities for continued health and well-being. By walking on a beach, with its successive curves and undulating surfaces, your body has to work harder to move from one spot to another and use more energy!
The energy spent when walking on sand can be 1.2 times greater than when walking on compact terrain and this may be attributed to a slower rate of reduction or dissipation of kinetic and potential energy associated with strides or steps taken when walking on sand .
When your body uses more energy, you can burn off some calories as well. This can be a win-win situation when relaxing at the beach. Indeed, it may be surprising to learn that you can sneak in a non-tedious workout session by simply going for a walk on the beach!
#2 – Opportunities to vary exercise sessions.
Yes, you can burn more energy and calories by going for a walk on the beach. Hence, you understand the exercise component that this activity could provide. Another benefit of walks on the beach is that you can also vary the degree or intensity of the walk, thereby varying the amount of effort and energy exerted.
This may also be similar to walking on grass. However, research shows that there is increased energy expenditure when walking on sand and more than that expended when walking on grass . You could take a brisk walk on the beach where your feet hardly have enough time to sink thoroughly into the sand. This could also be relaxing, refreshing and may also provide a massaging effect for your toes and the soles of your feet.
However, you could also move at a much slower pace while walking on the beach and this intensifies your use of energy because your feet has the tendency to sink deeper into the sand beneath it when you walk at a slower pace. Thus, if your feet sink deeper, what happens? Yes you probably guessed it – indeed, it will take a little more effort to pull your feet back out and continue on your walk.
Thus, imagine doing this over and over again for at least 30 minutes or an hour. This helps you burn even more energy by requiring the extra effort to pull out your feet from the sandy beach.
#3 – Tone up your muscles!
The benefits keep getting better and better! Does the sound of toned and firm muscles sound nice? Walking on a flat firm surface provides the same force and pressure and as a person walks on such surfaces, there is no or little need for the tendons or muscles in the legs and feet to vary the amount of pressure provided in relation to the surface a person walks on. However, when working on a beach with sand passing through your toes, your muscles are able to put in fluctuating resistance to the sand beneath the feet. This is much harder than merely walking on a flat surface where the expected depression caused by the toes is practically non-existent.
A research study focused on women between the age of 60 and 75 years with the goal of determining the effect of walking on sand versus walking on a firm surface and research results showed that those who walked on sand during the study had medical improvements such as significant high-density lipoprotein and increased hip strength .
As a person walks on a beach, more work is done by the legs especially the tendons and muscles, in an effort to balance out the changes in feet depression into and out of the sand. This continual variation in movement could help tone up your muscles too.
#4 – Gain with less pain.
There are certain types of exercises that may wreck havoc on the joints and others parts of the body. For instance, using mechanical exercise bikes or jogging on a treadmill extensively could begin to cause joint pain over time. This occurs as a result of the amount of pressure being exerted on the joints without adequate time for recovery or relief to the over-worked areas.
On the contrary, a walk on the beach presents you with a less tedious exercise option. Yes, you have less likelihood of burning out your muscles or hurting your joints when you choose the less tedious option of a walk on the beach! Also, running on sand may provide low impact . Sand act as a cushion to the feet and absorbs some of the pressure that would have been totally felt by your feet.
#5 – Reconnect with the earth.
This may sound like an old wives’ tale. However, walking barefoot on the beach can enable you feel the texture of the sand beneath your feet and between your toes. It could be an invigorating experience and a stress reliever too. Nature is all around us and sometimes we are too busy to fully appreciate it.
Being barefoot in the sand on a beach takes us away from what we may ordinarily experience every day. Hence, take an opportunity to reconnect yourself back to nature. Do keep your shoes or slippers handy, though. In some cases, the sand may be somewhat warmer on a hot day and it would be good to have some protection for your feet nearby.
#6 – Soak up some sun!
Yes, this may certainly be expected. Being outside presents an access to natural Vitamin D. This is also known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’. Vitamin D is needed for moods and good bone structure. It can also provide some anti-cancer properties. Sometimes schedules and life-styles including work patterns and personal habits may keep people indoors for extended periods of time daily, weekly, monthly and possibly yearly.
Modern conveniences of cars, trains and other modes of transportation take us directly from our homes to our places of work or school and vice-versa. Getting outdoors to a place like the beach provides a relaxing atmosphere to soak up some sun. It can be quite easy to become deficient in Vitamin D and many first world countries experience this deficiency due to life-styles that are not primarily experienced outdoors.
Benefits of absorbing Vitamin D include minimizing the risk of falls especially in the elderly, minimizing the risk of cardiovascular disease, minimizing the risk of bone fracture, regulating blood pressure and decreasing the risk of colorectal cancer . Hence, there is an advantage related to soaking in this vitamin when you go for a walk on the beach.
#7 – Simply being outside and enjoying the view!
On a great day, with the sun shining outside and a cool breeze in the air, the benefits of walking on the beach can come full circle as you take in the fresh air, smell the ocean drift towards your nostrils, enjoy the magnificent view and appreciate the earth! By being so close to nature and admiring the landscape and far-reaching ocean, you are more inclined to meditate and watch any existing stress begin to fade away. Time flies by too because of the relaxing nature of the beach and the tranquility created by the environment.
Are you feeling stressed? Is there a beach nearby?
Go for a walk, relax and see how you feel after walking on the beach for about 30 minutes. Simply being at the beach and taking in the environment has been shown to be effective in promoting health psychologically for parents and children who live in coastal areas and key benefits also include relief from stress and engagement with nature .
It can be a spectacular moment on the beach, just as the sun raises or as it sets. Perhaps you did not know that going to the beach could be quite exciting and beneficial too. The numerous benefits mentioned provide significant health benefits and rewards. Indeed, there is less stress and strain on your feet and the fresh ocean air also does a lot to lead you towards a healthier life. So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to start planning to go for a walk on the beach!
If you are looking for other foods to help you with inflammation and pain, then check out 101 Superfoods that Fight Pain & Inflammation:
 PubMed: Energy Cost of Walking or Running on Sand
 PubMed: Energetics of Walking on Sand and Grass
 PubMed: Effect of a Sand or Firm-Surface Walking Program
 PubMed: Energy Cost of Running on Grass Compared to Soft Dry Beach Sand
 PubMed: Optimal Vitamin D Status for Colorectal Cancer Prevention
 PubMed: The Beach as a Setting for Families’ Health Promotion