Beach Fitness 101: Mastering a New Natural Environment
A new environment is a welcome change of pace. It brings unique opportunities. It provides new perspectives.
It's summer. So get to the beach if you haven't already.
Here's what to look forward to (and be aware of) when you decide to train like a Spartan while you're on a beach, whether it's coastal or inland.
There are three elements to training at the beach.
Sand. Water. Sun.
You pound pavement. You run trails. But do you do sand?
It's a brand new exercise surface for many people. If it's new for you, know that it changes the game. From frisbee to HIIT, you need to respect this element.
Here are 3 advantages of sand surfaces:
- Burn more calories. Running or exercising on sand is tough. More effort must be produced to move because of the nature of the surface area. It freaking absorbs you. To run your usual mile at your usual pace requires much more energy production. Doing burpees requires more energy. This increase in energy production can only be achieved by burning more calories.
- Build stabilizing muscles. When walking or running on sand your footfall changes each time. This is because your foot sinks into the sand in unpredictable ways. When moving on sand, there will be far greater variability in your steps than you experience on the road. Because of this, you will develop stabilizing muscles you previously didn’t need. The development of these stabilizing muscles will not only decrease the likelihood of injury in your regular movments but also get you ready to better handle trails and other inconsistent running surfaces.
- Decrease the impact on your joints. As it’s already been mentioned, your feet push into the sand instead of bouncing off the ground. If you are a battle-worn racer, your body just might thank you for this. Sand cushions any impact you have with it, from running to volleyball.
Warning: As we covered, because things are different when exercising on sand, you will work new stabilizing muscles. You will tax your body in new ways. Exercising on autopilot isn’t going to work out so well. Do NOT think you can do your regular routine on sand and not put yourself at risk of injury.
Ease into it. Learn the new medium of sand. You are probably going to be barefoot. Watch your feet. Watch your step. Go slow.
Swimming is the ultimate full-body fitness experience. From the top of your head to the tip of your toes, every inch of you is involved with swimming. If you are in surf, all of your mind will be included, too.
Here are some of the benefits of exercising in the ocean:
- It builds muscle. Water is 1000 times more dense than air. This means every inch you move in water requires much more force to be produced on your part. This means you’ll burn a ton of calories while strengthening your entire body.
- It’s low impact. Water is denser than air, but it’s not as dense as the ground. With swimming, there isn’t the constant impact on your body that is found when moving on ground. Your joints will thank you (even if your muscles curse you).
- It’s a new natural environment to explore. The ocean is the last great frontier of exploration for humans on the planet Earth. Life evolved there. It’s time for you to return. Get a pair of goggles. Do some free diving while out there doing your swim. Keep an eye out for sea life. Enjoy the new sensation of full immersion in a salty body of water. Breath deep. Allow the nature of nature to make a workout seem like exploration or play.
Warning: Be safe. Swim with a lifeguard. Watch out for undertow and riptides. Avoid coral reefs and rock sholes. Never swim alone.
Start slow. If you don’t have a lot of experience swimming, you probably don’t understand the toll will take on your body.
Pay Attention. Don’t zone out. With all the currents and waves, before you know it, you might be too far from sure or way farther down it than you suspected. Respect water. Just a few inches drown you.
Nothing can wreck a great vacation faster than a bad sunburn.
Spartan promotes outdoor exercise. As much as possible. Wherever you are.
Spartans get outside. -10F snowshoeing or 110F desert marathoning.
Get that vitamin D. Sit yourself before that ball of fire that gives life to this planet.
If you need a practical reason to spend time in view of the sun, know that the outdoors have been shown to promote wellness.
But be smart. The biggest concern with the sun is getting too much of it.
Wear sunscreen. Cover yourself. Do what you need to do based upon your skin type and sun exposure.