Anyone for a stroll on the beach? I would say most people would find that appealing, but not everyone may know all the associated health benefits of walking in the sand. So, I’ve listed a few to motivate you on your next trip to the beach!
- Strength Training: Sand provides natural resistance to strengthen toes, ankles, and calves. Scientists have shown that it takes 2.1 to 2.7 times more energy to walk on sand than it does to move at the same pace on hard surfaces. That energy is used to strengthen all the muscles of your feet and back, calves, quadriceps, and glutes. The dryer the sand, the harder the work. And, your foot can experience a full range of motion in the sand.
- Greater Calorie Burn: The energy used to strengthen all those muscles had to come from somewhere…according to Berkeley Wellness, you can expect to burn about 50% more calories by walking on sand than on paved ground.
- Improved Proprioception: Basically, good walking proprioception means your mind is in touch with the stimuli coming from your feet. This helps to connect you with the world around you and walking barefoot in the sand is a wonderful way to do tap into that neuromuscular activity. After all, you have as many as 7,000 nerve endings in each of your feet. Just think about feeling all those grains under the sensitive part of your arch or between your toes!
- Stress Reduction: Sand conforms to your feet without restricting them, so it’s like a walking foot massage…and it is free!
- Grounding/Earthing: The theory behind grounding or earthing is that electrical energy from the earth can be absorbed through your feet when you walk barefoot, especially on wet or moist sand which then may lead to a multitude of benefits. Even if you are not sold on this theory, few would disagree that walking barefoot (without your cell phone) can be a meditative activity that will help you feel mentally grounded and centered.
- Natural Exfoliant: Wet sand acts as an exfoliant that helps peel dead skin cells from your body. Try walking in the loose sand first and then wander into the path of shallow waves to wash it off.
- Vitamin and Mineral Boost: Besides reaping the many benefits of Vitamin D from being in the sun, like calcium absorption, autoimmune response, and mood, it has also been found that it leads to reduced stress and improved sleep and appetite. On top of that, if you are on a salty beach, then the water also contains a multitude of healthy minerals like magnesium, potassium, and iodine. Many of these minerals are used in topical anti-aging products, so why not step into the waves and get a free dose?
- Gait analysis: Curious about your foot strike? A simple glance at your footsteps in the sand can tell you quite a bit. Wherever you see a deep indentation is where you are striking the ground. For instance, if you see a heavy imprint from both the heel and the toe, then you may be landing on the heel, rolling to the toes and pushing off too harshly. This information would more likely appeal to runners than walkers, but interesting nonetheless.
Enjoy your day at the beach!
Susan S. Covey is the Director of Health and Fitness Bayleigh Chase-Acts