Out of all the undeniably amazing things about summer, one is most definitely the ability to combine the best of two worlds: hitting the beach and completing your workout. Not only is a beach workout immensely enjoyably, but, it also requires minimal-to-no equipment. Plus, it can be done at just about any time of day (so long as you’re well-lathered up with sunscreen!).
Beach workouts can involve pretty much every type of exercise out there. This includes running, bodyweight exercises—like squats, lunges, push-ups, sit-ups—and any sort of jumping exercise. You can get all our beach workouts in the Aaptiv app.
What’s more: Nearly all of these exercises are enhanced when performed on the beach. For example, running in the sand brings a completely different dynamic to regular running, adding even more resistance for your calves and legs.
Bodyweight exercises performed in the sand tend to be easier on the joints. They also add an element of instability to your normal plyometric workouts (or even just jumping jacks and burpees), explains Roger E. Adams, Ph.D., personal trainer, doctor of nutrition, and owner of eatrightfitness.
Exercising outdoors brings its own set of benefits, one potential perk being a harder-earned workout. There are an array of obstacles in the natural environment, such as inclines and resistance.
So, your body often has to work even harder to achieve the same results as it would while indoors on a treadmill or elliptical. You’ll likely feel better exercising outdoors, too, especially in a serene location, such as the beach.
In fact, one study, published in Environmental Science & Technology, found that individuals who exercised outdoors experienced greater feelings of revitalization, increased energy, and positive engagement coupled with less tension, anger, and confusion.
With summer right around the corner, you might be planning to incorporate a beach workout or two in your regimen. If so, here are six things to keep in mind before getting your sweat on by the shore.
It’s important to start out slow
Just as with any new workout, it’s important to ease into a routine or environment that you’re unfamiliar with. “You’re switching from working out on a hard surface to working out on the sand, so your stabilizing muscles will not be strong enough to support the same movements [that] you were doing in the gym, which could result in an immediate injury,” warns Caleb Backe, CPT, a health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics. Expect for it to take a couple of weeks, at least, before you’re back to your normal workout length and intensity.
It’s hot and the sun is strong
Make sure that you’re wearing SPF 30 or higher when working out at the beach, particularly during peak sun hours (10 a.m. – 4 p.m.). “Not only will there likely be no shade, but the sun’s rays can be reflected off of the sand or the ocean, which can potentially cause you to burn more quickly,” says Tara Allen, R.N., women’s health nurse, personal trainer, health coach, and nutritionist.
“You should also bring plenty of cold water to drink before, during, and after your workout. Ideally, use a stainless steel water bottle to insulate your drink and without worry about plastic alternatives melting in the heat and sun.”
Sand will get everywhere
The beach is most certainly not the tidiest of environments in which to exercise. So, you can expect to make quite a mess during your workout. When you’re picking out your workout outfit and footwear, Allen suggests keeping in mind that sand will likely get into places you haven’t even thought about (yet).
“Additionally, friction from your movements may cause chaffing or blisters. Sp, it’s important to choose tight-fitting undergarments.” You also might consider going barefoot on the sand to reduce the chance of this happening.
Supportive wear is a must
It can be tempting to work out in the type of clothing that you’d normally wear at the beach. But you may want to rethink sporting a bathing suit or a casual t-shirt and shorts. You should still dress in active wear that’s meant for the type of exercise you’ll be performing.
“Consider a sports bra and a pair of shorts that will keep you comfortable,” says Allen. This type of supportive clothing will make it easier for you to move as you exercise.
Your terrain may be uneven
The sand is most certainly not an even surface, which can be beneficial for increasing the intensity of your workout. However, it also requires more stretching and overall strength in the connective tissue and muscles in your feet and lower legs, according to Allen.
“As such, be sure to warm up thoroughly before your workout and stretch well afterwards,” she says. “It’s also a good idea to ease into any longer-distance exercises (such as running) that you are trying out on the sand for the first time.”
Aaptiv also has stretching workouts you can do after your workouts as well.
Check for sharp objects
Before beginning your beach workout it’s a good idea to do a thorough check of the grounds on which you’ll be working out for sharp objects. “You don’t want anything sharp to stab you while you’re doing your push-ups,” says Backe. “Glass and seashells can cause some serious damage.