5 Ways to Work Out While at the Beach

Heading to the sun and sand starts to sound like a really great idea around this time of the year. Whether it’s a short weekend away, or a long and luxurious vacation, the beach never disappoints. It offers a chance to soak up some time outside and escape from the craziness of everyday life. Vacations also mean you typically don’t have convenient access to the elliptical and treadmill at the gym. Instead of skipping a workout altogether, use the location to your advantage.

The beach offers a number of different ways to get your heart pumping while having a blast. Pick one of these 5 activities and you’re sure to find something you love, whether you prefer doing it alone or heading out with a group. Just don’t forget the sunscreen.

beach volleyball

Source: iStock

1. Volleyball

There always seems to be a group of people enjoying a game of volleyball when the weather is gorgeous. Instead of shying away from the group already hitting the net, ask to join in. You’ll likely make some new friends and get a pretty awesome workout at the same time. Plus, a game in the sand boosts your effort more than a stable surface. Livestrong explained a 185-pound person burns around 178 calories in a vigorous game at the gym, but it rockets up to 355 calories at the beach.

Unlike many exercises that target just one or two muscle groups, volleyball is an exercise workhorse. Shape explained it’s a full-body workout that involves your arms, legs, and core. You won’t find yourself worrying about any of that, though. The article went on to say that you’re likely to have so much fun that you’ll “forget about how hard you’re working or how many minutes you’ve been playing.” You might even find yourself longing for a game when you get back to your usual gym routine.

While many beaches are already equipped with everything you need for a game, some are better than others. Olympian April Ross shared her top 5 picks with Outside. Even a non-professional can appreciate those gorgeous settings.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

2. Surfing

Laid-back attitudes have given surfers a reputation for being lazy, but this activity is a lot more challenging than it looks. It’ll work out nearly every part of your body by the time you’ve made it back to shore. The Los Angeles Times reported paddling out works your back and shoulders, pushing up stresses your arms and chest, and then you engage your core as you balance on the board. The article also said it keeps you mentally alert since you have to assess each wave as it comes in, and get the timing just right.

Men’s Fitness agreed that this exercise is a great way to work out while enjoying the outdoors. They said a 180-pound person will trim off at least 125 calories from 30 minutes of surfing. That number varies with the intensity of the waves, though. The choppier the sea, the harder you’ll have to work.

Don’t be scared off if you’ve never given surfing a shot, because it’s also a complete blast. Men’s Health talked to champion surfer Kelly Slater to get the best tips for beginners. Do a little research before you head out of town to see if there’s a local school or individual instructors to help you on your way.

running, beach

Source: iStock

3. Running

Before you shudder, consider that running outside in a gorgeous setting is completely different than slogging through a few miles on a treadmill. Besides, you’ll get way more out of your effort when you’re on the sand. According to Livestrong, a 185-pound person will shave off around 400 calories by maintaining a 10-minute mile for 30 minutes on a normal surface, but that same effort will approximate to about 640 calories when you move to the sand.

Keep in mind, it’s likely you won’t be able to maintain your regular pace. Even so, Self reported you’re still going to be working about 30% harder. The article also offered a number of tips to get the most out of your workout, like studying the beach ahead of time and focusing on maintaining good form.

Those new to running in the sand should avoid diving in too quickly. Dr. R. Amadeus Mason, physician and assistant professor of orthopedics and family medicine at Emory University, told The New York Times that beginners should start out running in the sand closest to the water’s edge. Since it’s damp, it will be less of a challenge than the loose stuff. And keep barefoot running to a minimum when starting out. Self recommended 15 or 20 minutes to start.


Source: iStock

4. Kayaking

If you were a fan of canoe trips growing up, then you’ll likely love kayaking. This workout takes you out in the ocean to enjoy some great views while you work up a sweat. According to Livestrong, a 175-pound person can burn 397 calories kayaking for an hour. It might not be as effective as some more intense workouts, such as running, but you’re likely to stick with it longer if you’re having fun.

While many favorite exercises focus on legs, paddling a kayak is one of the few activities that strengthens your arms while you improve your cardiovascular fitness. Men’s Journal reported this activity is great for working shoulders and lats, and even engages your legs a bit since they help stabilize you. As with plenty of other workouts, you can incorporate intensive interval training to get the most effective workout.

swim, snorkel

Source: iStock

5. Swimming

Being so near the water practically begs for at least a quick dip. If you typically resort to high-impact activities for a workout, swimming might be a good change of pace. Women’s Health explained it’s a good way to work different muscle groups that might get neglected during your regular routine, and it can help nurse any nagging injuries. The article also reported that hitting the water is a great way to strengthen your core and your heart.

The amount of calories you burn depends on your effort, but a 175-pound person can burn 318 calories after an hour of moderate swimming, according to Everyday Health’s calorie calculator. That same individual can get it all the way up to 794 calories by maintaining a vigorous effort.

Don’t feel sheepish if you never learned how to do so much as a doggie paddle. It might not come as easily in adulthood, but swimming lessons are available for all ages and skill levels. WebMD suggested finding a coach to get one-on-one training. With some practice, you’ll be looking forward to hitting the beach more often.

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