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Hit the sand!

Written By: Andi Atkinson, UT Physicians | Updated: June 28, 2022
woman running on beach

Running on the beach burns more calories than running on concrete.

As you head to the beach this summer, be sure to take advantage of the sandy shore. Whether you choose to walk, jog, or jump rope, take a little time to work out on the sand before you hit the waves.  

Angie L. Curtis, MD
Angie L. Curtis, MD

“Exercising on the sand definitely has its benefits, and it’s a good way to change up your regular exercise routine,” said Angie L. Curtis, MD, pediatric sports medicine specialist with UT Physicians and staff physician with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston. “The sand puts less stress on your joints as it strengthens your muscles. The sand is a good place to exercise for most people.”

An expert gives three smart reasons to hit the sand every time!

Your lower muscles get an extra workout!

“Because sand is uneven and shifts, your muscles from the waist down have to work harder to stabilize you. Your body is working more muscles in the foot, ankle, and legs to keep you level, but you really don’t notice it. In fact, if you can move fast on sand, you’ll move even faster on concrete. That’s why athletes take time to train on the sand,” Curtis said.

It is best to start off slow, as the sand’s surface is not for everyone.

“If you don’t have good equilibrium, sand may not be the best surface for you. Just start easy, and know your body and mechanics,” she said.

You burn more calories!

“Just walking on sand will burn more calories. Sand absorbs more force and energy than solid surfaces, so it requires more energy to come up from it. You’re putting in more motion to get the movement done, and you get a good burn from that,” Curtis said.

Try not to pack too much exercise to avoid sore muscles the next day.

“Most of us don’t realize that our body is working harder on sand. Don’t push too hard. It’s best to start slow and add time and length,” the doctor said. “If you’re not very active, opt for a low-impact walk.”

You get extra benefits!

“You can wear shoes or go barefoot, or wear workout gear or swimming attire. The water, breeze, sunshine, and smell and sound of the ocean are other benefits that can make exercising on the sand more enjoyable and even relax your mind,” Curtis said.

During sunny hours, remember to stay hydrated and wear sunscreen.

“Also, if you take a leisurely stroll on the beach, be sure to walk both directions. Sand is not even, and your path may have an uneven side. Walk each way to ensure both sides of your body get an equal workout,” she said. “You can also make your walk better and have a friend come along.”

As the clinical practice of McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, UT Physicians has locations across the Greater Houston area to serve the community. To schedule an appointment, call 888-4UT-DOCS.