Spending time at the beach is really good for your health, but if you want to get the most health benefits from your upcoming vacation, then you’ll want to bring along your running shoes. I know how tempting it can be to relax for your entire vacation, but running on the beach has a myriad of health benefits.
Knowing what benefits you’ll enjoy when you stop sitting and start running will inspire you to bring your running shoes and hit the sand, so read on to see why I think that running on the beach is always a great idea, as well as some amazing benefits that you’ll be able to enjoy.
You’ll Strengthen Weaker Muscles
If you tend to always run on hard ground that doesn’t shift under your feet when you make contact, then your muscles will get stronger, but certain muscles simply won’t be worked as hard as others will. This means that you are going to end up with strong leg muscles, but weaker muscles in your ankles and your feet.
Running on sand can be difficult since the surface will tend to shift and you have to work harder to stabilize yourself. When you run on the beach, then you are going to require more stability from your feet and ankles, which will help you to work and strengthen these underused muscles.
If you really want a challenge, then you can try running barefoot. Not everyone is a fan of barefoot running, but this will really test your small muscles and allow you to grip and feel the sand underneath your feet, which I think is an interesting experience.
You’ll Burn a Lot of Calories
If you are running because you want to lose weight, then you’ll be thrilled to know that by running on the sand you can burn a lot more calories than if you were running around the track. You have to use a lot more muscles when running on sand, and this, in turn burns more calories.
In fact, there have been studies that show that when you run on sand you will actually use 1.5 times more energy than if you were simply running on a sturdy and hard surface. This translates into burning more calories while you are on your run, which is great if you are trying to lose weight.
It’s a Great Way to Decrease Stress
Stress can have a major negative impact on your overall health, which is why so many people spend a lot of time and money to try to reduce the amount of stress in their lives. It’s surprising for a lot of people to learn that simply taking a run on the beach can have incredible impacts on your stress level.
I have always thought that running on the beach reduced my stress level, and many other people agree. If you find that you are feeling a little worked up or worried about something, then the best course of action may to be to go for a run, as you’ll feel a lot more relaxed afterwards.
It’s hard to not feel relaxed when you are running in a beautiful location and are surrounded by the sound of crashing waves, so if you are feeling a little worried or high strung on your next trip to the beach, then you know what you need to do.
Build Lower Body Strength Faster
Not only will running on the beach help to strengthen the small muscles in your feet and ankles, but it will also do wonders for the rest of your muscles in your lower body. Your quads, calves, and even your hip flexors will be stronger when you take time to run on the sand on a regular basis.
I was pleasantly surprised to find out that doctors have found that running on the beach will actually strengthen calf muscles much faster than if you simply run on asphalt. By running on a surface that is constantly shifting, you have to exert more power through your muscles, which is a great way to build muscle mass.
It’s a Great Low-Impact Exercise
Not many people think of running as a low-impact exercise, and due to the damage that can be done on your feet, hips, and legs when running on asphalt, I’d have to agree. However, running on the beach is completely different and doesn’t cause nearly as much impact or damage to your body due to the composition of your running surface.
The soft sand gives you a much smoother running surface, which is great for runners who have dealt with the problems that hard asphalt can cause. If you are worried about a lot of impact on your lower body when running, then I suggest that you stick to softer sand a little farther away from the water, as the wet sand will be packed and harder.
You’ll Improve Your Coordination
There’s nothing like a whole body workout to make you feel like you have made good use of your time when you want to get in shape, and running on the beach is the perfect example of a fun and fast workout that will leave you exhausted. I find that when I run on the beach that I engage my muscles much more than when I run on asphalt.
Engaging these muscles not only helps to tighten and strengthen them, but also improves overall running form. This means that when you’re done at the beach and continue your running on asphalt that you will still enjoy some of the same benefits, as you will have a much better running form.
As you can see, running on the beach offers many health benefits, no matter if you are looking to lose weight, get in shape, or simply reduce the stress that you feel in your everyday life. While bringing your running shoes along on a vacation may seem counter intuitive to some people, I think that running on the beach is something that everyone should try to work into their next vacation.
Megan Jones is the lead author of Seaside Planet. She is an avid surfer, scuba diver, and travel enthusiast who takes any opportunity she can to spend time in the ocean. You can learn more about Meg and the rest of the editorial team here.