Fit Tip: Run (or walk) on sand to get an edge!
1) Greater Calorie Burn: Beach running is much less efficient than road running. According to a study published in The Journal of Experimental Biology, an athlete running on soft beach sand expends close to one and a half times more energy than when running on the road. So, for those running to lose weight, take your run to the sand! Since beach running is much less efficient it will burn more calories. This is also good news for those who want to sustain some level of fitness but who don’t have a lot of time – it’s a more efficient calorie burning workout. It’s like running with weights on your ankles – harder to get your foot planted and harder to get it off the ground. Also you get nice views and ocean sounds to distract you from the pain!
2) Lower Impact: Running on soft sand (or even packed sand) reduces the overall stress of pounding on the lower extremities. (Note: Keep in mind that running on soft sand will force your stabilizer muscles to work more, which is good, but could also make you more prone to injury, especially if you are just starting out).
3) Builds Muscle: Sand has less rebound than pavement, which forces the quadriceps, hip flexors and gluteus muscles to all engage more than they do during a normal run.
4) Great for Speed Training: Since you have to push into (and pull out of) the sand with greater force to go a certain speed, you can build more power at a given speed than you would while running on a hard surface. So, when you do go back to road running, your speed will be improved as you no longer have the drag of the sand.
This morning my plans for a beach run were thwarted by a very high tide. There was no beach to run on! So this forced me into Plan B: a run up the long and painfully steep hill into Torrey Pines State Park. I was rewarded with beautiful views on the walk back down, though.
So, next time you go running, try taking your run to the beach. Just remember to check the tides before you go!