The beach is a perfect place to relax, read, and soak up some sun. It’s also one of the best natural playgrounds. Like people, beaches come in all shapes and sizes. And depending on your closest beach, it can be a great place to exercise or do some outdoor activities.

With many options available, the beach is an increasingly accessible space for you to enjoy the natural world. And the beautiful scenery of the beach can inspire you to move while breathing in some fresh air.

Beaches are for everyone

Perhaps the best part about exercising at the beach is that anyone can do it. You don’t have to be a triathlete or pro-swimmer to enjoy the benefits of exercising at the water’s edge.

Photo by Mat Reding

 

Walking

Going for a walk along the beach is one of the most enjoyable ways to get outside, not to mention perennially romantic. Walking on a sandy beach adds resistance to your exercise, making your muscles work a little harder than walking on a hard surface. Keep this in mind when deciding your pace and length of the walk. If you visit a rocky beach, consider the terrain before venturing out and wear proper footwear. Rocky shores can be very uneven and slippery, so try to find a path when possible.

Photo by @letsgonash

 

Stretching and Yoga

The beach is also a great place to try some stretching or yoga. And you won’t need any equipment. If you have a yoga mat with you, great. If not, try using a beach towel as your surface to stretch on. Again, consider the terrain before jumping into your practice. Soft sand can shift easily when holding a pose. Chose your movements accordingly and avoid stretches where your wrists and ankles are put in vulnerable positions.

Remember, you’re at the beach. This doesn’t have to be a serious practice. Even just lying in shavasana or corpse pose is beneficial for your body. When you pair stretching with the sound of the water and breathing in the fresh air, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying the benefits of using the beach as your playground.

Photo by Mat Reding

 

Open Water Swimming

While many associate swimming for exercise with the pool or ‘lane swimming’, open water swimming is a great way to exercise as well. Broadly defined as swimming in a natural body of water (like a lake, river, or ocean), open water swimming is becoming increasingly popular with everyone from beginners to long distance swimmers. It offers the freedom of space and a connection to the natural world that a pool simply cannot.

Open water swimming is a great form of exercise no matter the intensity. For more beginner or relaxed swimmers, simply getting in the water, treading water, swimming in small circles, or swimming out and back short distances is enough to enjoy the benefits of open water swimming. For the more adventurous, try defining an area to swim laps within, or if possible, use a device like a fitbit to track your distance swam. No matter how long you plan to swim for, just getting in the water brings with it a number of positive health benefits.

 

Learn more about the benefits of open water swimming on Great Lakes Guide.

Photo by @justsmile_justtri

 

Beach Accessibility

Thanks to the emergence of innovative technology, the beach is becoming a more accessible space for those with mobility and accessibility challenges. Beach mats, beach wheelchairs, and swimming chairs are all becoming increasingly common at beaches and local facilities are loaning or renting them out to beach-goers. This makes beaches a more welcoming and accessible place for everyone.

Check out this list of 8 accessible beaches in Canada and The United States respectively.

Photo by @allygrizzard

 

Staying Safe While Exercising at the Beach

No matter what type of activity or exercise interests you, trying it at the beach is a great way to enjoy yourself outdoors. But with any beach visit, there are a number of safety precautions and rules that should be taken into account when doing any type of exercise or activity at the beach.

Always try to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Be mindful of the temperature and wear sunscreen or a sun cover. If exercising in a hot climate, early morning activity can help avoid the hot afternoon sun. Besides, the traffic is usually slower at this time, too.

For walking, always consider the terrain. The firmness of sand can drastically affect your experience. If the sand is softer try going for a shorter distance to keep your ankles, calves, and knees happy. If walking on rougher, rocky terrain, make sure you are comfortable with it and have the proper footwear keep you sturdy.

If you are walking along an ocean beach always check the tide as well. Tides move at varying speeds and intensities and can get you into a lot of trouble quickly if not paid the proper respect. When possible, know the tide schedule and how whether it is on its way in or out.

Finally, consider that many beaches have a gradient or slope to them. If you are walking along a sloped beach for any significant distance, always plan to walk about the same amount length each way. That will help you alternate which foot is lower and balance out any effect this might have on your body.

As for swimming, open water swimming does come with its own set of risks and challenges. That is because unlike a pool, open waters are subject to the whims of our climate and environment. Conditions can change quickly and any one getting in the water should follow these tips on open water safety:


  1. Never swim alone. Having a beach companion and exercise partner is always a good idea and provides someone to share the enjoyment with.
  2. Always check the water quality before getting in the water. If a beach has failed recent tests or is under any sort of advisory, err on the side of caution and stay on land. If a beach is under a toxic algae advisory, like Red Tide, evening recreating near the water can be dangerous. Always adhere to local precautions.
  3. Know whether there is a lifeguard on duty. If there is, check with them before getting in the water about wave and wind conditions, currents, etc. If no lifeguard is on duty, try to inform yourself about these conditions prior to getting in the water.
  4. Set your boundaries. Pick an accessible area to swim in that will make getting out of the water easy if need be. This could be finding a cove, more shallow area, or staying close to the shoreline.
  5. Check out this video made for one of Canada’s only urban open water swimming piers to for safety tips and good practices.

Have you tried outdoor activities at the beach? Share your experience and photos with us on Instagram @swimguide

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