Getting Fit by Walking on the Beach - dummies

Getting Fit by Walking on the Beach

By Liz Neporent

Besides offering beautiful scenery, the beach is a place where you can walk or stroll for miles without obstacles. However, walking on the beach is not without pitfalls.

You may think that dry sand is easy on your joints because it is soft and giving. It is not. When you step down on sand, your feet sink below a level surface, and your joints, especially your ankles and knees, have to work extra hard to lift your foot up and out for the next step. Definitely try to avoid walking on dry sand for extended periods of time if you aren’t very fit or have any chronic ankle, knee, or lower back problems.

Do your beach walking along the edge of the shoreline where the sand is firm and wet. Your feet will still sink down to some extent — not enough to stress out your joints, but just enough to make your workout more strenuous.

Here is some other advice to consider before you hit the sand:

  • Sand reflects sunlight and absorbs heat, so wearing sunscreen for your beach walks is especially important. Reapply sunscreen frequently, especially if you’ve been sweating or you’ve just come out of the water. Don’t forget these easy-to-overlook spots that come to your attention only after they are burned to a crisp: your ears, in between your toes, along the edges of your bathing suit, and the back of your knees and neck.

  • Don’t forget the bug spray. Look for a product that is a combined bug repellent and sunscreen.

  • Wear a hat and sunglasses to protect your face from UV rays. Such protective gear lessens the possibility of wrinkling and premature aging of your skin and also helps reduce your risk of skin cancer.

  • Avoid walking during the hottest part of the day, between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Plan your beach walk around the sunrise or sunset to avoid heat-related complications.

  • If you do a lot of beach walking, consider purchasing a pair of aqua shoes. Several companies make a special shoe for walking on wet surfaces. Large shoe companies make an aqua sock or slipper that is made of a quick-dry nylon mesh; these also have extra-good traction to prevent slipping and sliding.

  • Be sure to drink plenty of water. In bright sunlight, you will dehydrate much more quickly than usual. And you’ll dehydrate even more quickly if you walk seaside, thanks to the salty air. Bring along a water bottle and sip it frequently as you stroll. Keep it in your ice chest under a shady umbrella between walks.

  • If you are using your everyday walking shoes to walk on the beach, make sure that you dry them thoroughly and take great pains to remove every grain of sand from the inside of them. Remove the insoles and brush them vigorously. One unfortunately placed grain of sand can cause skin irritation, blisters, and discomfort.