The beach is not a good place to get fit for; it’s a good place to get fit at! Sand and sea are a great location for an outdoor workout.
And let’s be honest. Exercising at the beach is one of life’s pleasures. The fresh air, the smell of the ocean and the feeling of the sun on your back. There’s just nothing else like it.
If you are bored of the gym, are looking for a tech free zone, want reconnect with nature, or just need to feel the sand under your feet, take your workout to the beach my friend.
We’ll show you a variety of ways you can exercise at the beach.
You’ve seen all the celebrities do it. And Hoe he’e nalu as it’s known in Hawaii, from which it hails, isn’t just popular with the rich and famous. In 2013, standup paddle-boarding was the most popular outdoor sporting activity people wanted to try for the first time.
A cross between surfing and canoeing, stand up paddle boards are long and wide and can be used on flat water or, if you’re an advanced paddle boarder, in the surf. As the name cleverly suggests, you stand on your board and paddle your way though the water.
Standup paddle-boarding requires and develops good balance, core strength and upper body endurance. If you don‘t have your own board you can rent one, and be sure to take a few lessons. The quicker you get the hang of it, the more enjoyable you’ll find it and the better your workout.
Sand dune sprints
Hill sprints are tough but sand dune sprints are insane! The steep incline combined with the constantly shifting sand means that it seriously works your legs and burns a crazy amount of calories, as you power up to the top.
Sand dune sprints will leave your legs a quivering mass of fire, your heart pumping and lungs heaving!
Surfing requires and develops great upper body strength as you paddle out through the waves, as well as good balance and coordination as you ride back in.
As a workout, surfing is not unlike interval training, because you work hard to get out into the waves and then rest as you wait for the perfect wave to take you back to shore.
If full-on surfing is not your thing, consider body boarding as an easier, equally beneficial alternative.
Walking & running
Old school is good school. You can’t go wrong with walking or running. Beginner or fastest man on earth – everyone knows how to.
Walking or running on sand is harder than running on solid paths or roads. The sand shifts as you push off so you use significantly more strength and energy. And that means a more demanding workout that burns more calories and build more muscle.
The sand also absorbs some of your weight as you land, which reduces the impact transmitted through your joints. This makes walking and running on sand easier on your knees and hips.
Take care if you choose to run barefoot on the beach – check for hazards such as soda cans, sharp shells, pebbles or drift wood that could cause you injury first. If you’d like to go barefoot, but it’s not safe to do, try a pair of minimalist running shoes instead.
Canoeing & kayaking
If you prefer being on the water rather than in it, try canoeing or kayaking. Both target the core and upper body. Though it might seem like your arms are doing all the paddling, your core works very hard too.
Don’t worry if you don’t have your own canoe or kayak, lots of beaches and beach stores offer rentals. Make sure you wear a life preserver. As with all outdoor water activities, consider the weather before heading out.
Explosive, fast and fun, beach volleyball is a freakishly good workout disguised as a game. Involving lots of jumping, brief sprints and dives, beach volleyball will not only improve your fitness and endurance but also your agility, speed and coordination.
Many beaches have nets ready so that you need are some friends and a ball.
Ultimate Frisbee is a passing and running team sport that’s also an excellent workout. Similar to soccer, players pass the Frisbee up the pitch and then attempt to score a goal while the opposition attempts to intercept and steal the Frisbee.
While there are organized leagues, beach Frisbee doesn’t have to be so formal. Simply mark out a large area of play, set up your goals and you’re set! By the end of an hour’s play, you will have run a long way and burnt a ton of calories.
Football may be a sport for big, tough, burly men. But while that might be true of the NFL, non-contact touch football is more about speed and agility.
As a running and passing game, touch football will torch your legs, rev up your heart rate and challenge your athleticism. The start/ stop nature of touch football also means it is a lot like interval training and hence an exceedingly good calorie burner.
Beach soccer is hugely popular in places like Brazil – famed for producing many top-class players with flair. Many of those world-class Brazilian players point to beach or street soccer with helping them hone their prodigious talents.
Traditionally, beach soccer is played barefoot. Playing barefoot improves ball handling and feel. However, if you’re not sure how to kick a soccer ball properly or think that there may be unseen hazards lurking in the sand, keep your shoes on. And don’t forget to rotate goalies – it’s only fair everyone gets chance to score!
You don’t need gym equipment to have an amazing workout. In fact, all you need is your body and some space – exactly what you have when you head off to the beach:
- Simply mark out a big circle, place 10 rocks around the edge at equal intervals and then assign an exercise to each rock.
- Pushups, lunges, sit-ups, jumping jacks, squat thrusts, burpees – any move that requires no equipment goes.
- After you’ve warmed up, work your way around the circle doing 20-repetitions or 45-seconds of each exercise (adjust reps/times to suit your fitness level).
- Go around your circuit 2 – 4 times and you have a great, total body workout using nothing more than your body.
If you prefer, you could take some basic exercise equipment to the beach such as a couple of kettlebells, medicine balls or resistance bands for more workout variety. With circuit training you work all of your major muscles, crank up your heart rate and burn a lot of calories. What’s not to love?
Last but certainly not least. Swimming. Whether you choose to gear up with fins and snorkel to check out the sea life or just your goggles to swim across the bay, swimming is great exercise.
Remember that the sea is nature’s pool. It’s subject to the weather, tides and wildlife. So keep safe and take note of any prevalent winds and tides and follow the instructions of lifeguards.
Learn more: Beginner Guide to Swimming Workouts