Walking on the beach delivers a wave of benefits for your body and mind. A sandy stroll is a great way to work out, de-stress, and unwind.
So slather on some sunblock! Here’s a deep dive into the five best benefits of beach walks, plus the deets on disadvantages.
1. Good exercise
Beach strolls are a fab form of exercise. Walking in sand requires more effort than walking on a hard surface. This can help you burn extra calories and strengthen the ankles, hips, and core.
Beachy bonus: Walking is a low impact activity. That means there’s a lower injury risk when compared to high impact sports like running.
2. Stress relief
Walking on the beach can be uber-beneficial for your mind and mental health.
“Taking regular walks on the beach is a fantastic way to calm the cortisol response in the brain, allowing you to feel more awake, alive, and alert,” says holistic health expert Mindy Pelz.
A 2019 study backs this up. Researchers found that spending at least 2 hours in nature per week can lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. It may also increase feelings of well-being and good health.
3. Vitamin D
Unlike built-up urban areas, beaches are a great source of natural sunlight. This is great news since 50 to 90 percent of your vitamin D comes from sunshine.
BTW, Vitamin D plays a big part in your overall health. Getting enough of this nutrient can help:
- promote healthy bones
- bolster the immune system
- benefit the nervous system
- support heart health
“If you take a walk on the beach and it’s a sunny day, you’ll get a much bigger vitamin D hit, which is super important if you spend a lot of time indoors,” says fitness instructor Joe Johnson.
4. Burns calories
Walking on uneven beach terrain makes muscles work up to 28 percent harder than walking on flat surfaces, according to a 2013 study.
“The instability means you need to push away from the surface a little harder with your legs,” says Johnson. “While this may seem negligible if you think about a couple of steps, this compounds over time.”
That said, beach walks are a great way to burn calories. Here’s a rough estimate of how many calories you can burn walking for 1 hour, based on weight and pace.
|Weight||2.0 mph (casual pace)||3.0 mph (moderate pace)||3.5 mph (brisk pace)||4.0 mph (very brisk pace)|
FYI: The exact number of calories you burn also depends on your weight, pace, terrain, incline, and other factors.
5. Good for feet and back
Beach walking can help build strength in your feet and back. It may also reduce your risk of muscle damage and soreness over the long term, according to a 2013 study.
Just keep in mind, you might feel the burn if you’re new to walking or if you walk long distances. So def don’t push past your limits.
Walking on the beach tends to be super safe, but there are still a few risks to watch out for. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your next sandy sweat sesh.
- Start solid. You might want to walk on solid ground for a few minutes before you hit the sand. This can help you prep for less even terrain.
- Warm up and cool down. You should always start and end your beach walks with stretches. Some great options include standing calf stretches, ankle rolls, standing quadricep stretches, and bent-over hamstring stretches.
- Find firm sand. You may also want to walk closer to the water where the sand is firmer and easier to tread on.
- Incline. Beaches tend to slope toward the water — sometimes gently, sometimes dramatically. Walking on a sloped surface can increase the risk of muscle strain. A way to get around this is walking in a zig-zag. It might feel a bit weird at first, but it demands equal output from both sides of the body.
Walking on the beach tends to be super safe. But there are still some risks to watch out for.
Softer surfaces like sand tend to be easier on the joints than hard surfaces like concrete. But you should avoid walking on slopes if you have ankle, back, or knee pain.
“If you are already experiencing knee pain, have had a recent surgery, or are walking with a limp, then walking on the beach is not recommended,” says physical therapist Nikki Clayton.
According to Clayton, the unpredictable and uneven walking surface of sand can put extra stress and strain on your joints.
Some peeps prefer to walk barefoot on the beach. But beginners might be better off wearing shoes. That means no flip-flops (trust us). A 2021 study found that this type of footwear can increase your risk of injury. This is because they don’t provide enough support for your feet or ankles.
P.S. Some peeps dig the feel of sand beneath their feet. We’re right there with ya. Just be sure to watch out for pointy objects. A single sharp shell can turn your peaceful sunset stroll into a stressful (and painful) situation.
Beach strolls can make you feel like you’re literally walking on sunshine 😎. Just keep in mind, you have to be super careful about sun damage. Spending too much time in the sun can increase your risk of skin cancer. It can also lead to dehydration, peeling, wrinkles, sun spots, and burns.
You can avoid sun damage by applying sunscreen before each walk. Stick to SPF 30 or higher even on cold or overcast days. Psst. You can also wear UV protective clothing and hats.
A walk on the beach is great for the body and mind. It’s a wonderful workout and is especially good for strengthening the legs, knees, and ankles. It also burns more calories than walking on flat surfaces like concrete or a treadmill. Just be sure to know your limits, especially on super steep slopes or rocky terrain.