Cool water. Endless sun. Boogie boarding, beach bodies and big umbrellas. Nothing says summer quite like a day at the beach—so much so that Americans prefer a vacation in the sand to visiting family.
In addition to the relaxing aspect of beaches, ocean-side destination also boasts another major perk: unlike many vacations, which can lead to that dreaded getaway weight gain, beaches offer an endless array of body-busting workout options.
If you’re heading to the beach this summer—or are fortunate enough to live near one—try these workouts to stay fit while soaking up the sun, sand and surf.
A note on starting out
Before we get into the workouts themselves, here’s a note for beginners: start on the wet sand, not the soft stuff. Although working out on soft, dry sand can engage your core and other muscles crucial for balance, experts say it’s safest to start out on wet, firm sand that eases you into your beach workout. And when you’re doing exercises that require running or quick movements, choose a level stretch of sand to avoid injuries that can cramp your workout style—and your vacation.
Running on the beach
Research shows that running on sand requires 1.5 times as much energy as running on a hard surface like concrete or your treadmill belt. Unless you have bad hips or other injuries that hinder your movement, running on the sand can also help keep your joints limber. No wonder those Baywatch babes were, well, such babes.
Ready to up your running game in a gorgeous setting? We love this Run, Run, Skip workout from Women’s Health—which, might we add, is just as beneficial for the men as the ladies. Because you’re starting on softer, less stable sand, your arms and shoulders will get a serious workout as you naturally use big movements to stabilize. And it’s equally beneficial for toning your legs.
Run, Run, Skip Sand Workout: Find a soft, dry stretch of sand close to the water. Take two running steps, then one skipping step. Repeat for between 30 and 60 seconds, depending on your fitness level. Jog back to where you started, running along the wet sand closer to the water. Repeat two to four times.
Sand and ocean jumps
The beach is great for many things: unwinding, relieving stress and escaping from the constant pull of office deadlines. But it’s also a serious launch pad for explosive movements like jumping. Soft, uneven sand increases resistance, which, in turn, helps you torch more fat, faster.
Jumping jacks or plain-old jumping movements on the sand can help you work up a major sweat. But to bring your jumps to the next level, try pairing them with a squat.
Beach frog jumps: Start in a squatting position; the lower the better. Draw your arms backward and jump forward while swinging your arms. Land softly, regain your balance, take a breath and repeat.
Prefer surf to sand? Jumping in the ocean can also help you burn 300 calories or more per hour. While that might not sound like a serious workout, water offers 14% or more resistance than on land, and that’s even more magnified by the ocean’s waves. Resistance keeps you from making dangerous, sudden movements that often result in injury, while the ocean’s cooling properties can help you from overheating.
If you’ve ever been to Hermosa Beach in Los Angeles, you might have come across a group of fitness devotees doing burpees on the sand. Let’s face it: burpees are difficult enough to do on solid ground, so this exercise is not for the faint of heart or short of breath. Burpees offer a total-body workout that is challenging even for the most fit exercisers. The next time you’re sitting in your beach chair feeling less than amazing about your summer body, do a few burpees to get your fitness back on track.
Burpees beach workout: Find a flat stretch of beach and complete 25 burpees as quickly as you can. Jump down to a pushup plank position, lower your body so that your chest is on the sand, jump up and do it all over again. This workout is supposed to feel tough, but if you can get through all 25, you’ve earned that dip into the ocean.
Not into running on the sand, doing burpees or jumping around? By simply walking on the sand or moving around in the water, you’re giving your body a different kind of workout than you get in the gym. They say that variety is the key to fitness for a reason: by switching up your routine, you engage different muscles, boost your motivation and curb your exercise boredom. Not bad for a workout with a view of the ocean.