Whether you’re considering a morning jog along the ocean or just want to throw a Frisbee with your kids at the beach, you should know that running on sand has its own set of benefits and potential risks.
“Beach training can be a very nice way to get motivated to exercise, with the chance to be outside in a beautiful, relaxing environment,” says Dr. Kenton Fibel, sports medicine physician at the Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute.
“Sand does not have the same stability and predictability as other surfaces.”
Benefits, risks, and tips for exercising on sand
Burning extra calories
Being active on sand isn’t just about soaking up some rays. When sand moves beneath your feet, it engages your ankles, arches, and calves, which can burn extra calories while you move.
“A potential benefit of beach training can be to strengthen the foot and ankle muscles, as well as the stabilizers of other joints,” says Dr. Fibel.
Exercising on sand while enjoying the view of rolling waves comes with potential risk.
“Sand is a surface that does not have the same stability and predictability as other surfaces,” says Dr. Fibel. “For this reason, this uneven—and sometimes unstable—surface can lead to injury. If you do not typically exercise, this could end up being too aggressive of an activity.”
If injury risk is a concern for you, try a leisurely stroll on wet sand while you enjoy the view.
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“Wearing shoes may be helpful,” says Dr. Fibel, who sees patients with acute injuries from beach soccer and volleyball—sports typically played barefoot.
Taking it slow, staying on wet sand, and wearing shoes can help keep you upright and enjoying a great workout in the ocean air this summer.