You probably don’t want to spend your entire vacation working out, but if you are going to do it, might as well do it on the beach - on the sand and the surf. Exercising on sand is much easier on your joints. All you’ll need is a minimum of 15 minutes because the soft, uneven surface of the sand will work your muscles out harder so you’ll get a better workout in less time.
According to the Journal of Experimental Biology’s study on the mechanics and energy of locomotion on sand, walking on sand requires approximately 2.5 times more energy expenditure than does walking on a hard surface at the same speed and running on sand requires approximately 1.5 times more energy expenditure than does running on a hard surface. Sand also reduces the force of impact, so those who struggle with high-impact exercises can generally do things on sand that they couldn’t do on hard surfaces. You can even work on your tan at the same time… just don’t forget the sunscreen. Also, it’s best if you can schedule your beach time and workouts for early mornings or late evenings; those are the best rays to soak in so you don’t get a nasty sunburn. Plus, you’ll get a see pretty sunrise or sunset as an added bonus.
Walking on Sand
Walking on sand isn't easy. It feels like having weights around your ankles because it's both harder to get your foot planted in soft, shifting sand and it's harder to pick it back up. Your body has to work harder to adjust to these external modifications. Before walking on the beach, make sure to warm up, stretch and ease into the transition before taking off – this will help build up strength and avoid any injuries.
If you're just starting out, it's recommended that you try walking on the harder packed sand first that's found near the water line during low tide. You'll still be challenged but it will also help ease you in to the more difficult workout exercising on higher, deeper and more challenging soft sand. For an even more difficult high-impact workout, try running wearing old running shoes through the ocean in calf-high water.
There's no equipment needed for this beach workout, but if you’d like to include the company of a couple of friends, a frisbee or a football to toss, feel free. It’s still your vacation, so it’s best to make it as fun as possible. Just remember your sunscreen and keep yourself hydrated with water.
Riding a Bike
Biking on sand is a challenging workout but it’s definitely worth it. It's a strong leg workout and a high-calorie burning exercise that will get your glutes, calves and quads as well as the rest of your body burning while you take in the beautiful scenery and breathe in the ocean air. And if biking on the sand is too challenging, you can still grab that bike and explore local bike paths or the local town as alternatives. This instant pick-me-up is easy on the joints, good for the heart and your inner explorer. Iberostar has some of the best hotels for cyclists and athletes, check them out of you are a biking lover.
Yoga on the Beach
Early morning beach yoga is the perfect way to surround yourself with beautiful scenery, breathe in some fresh salt air as well as get your daily dose of natural Vitamin D naturally. You don't need any equipment other than a yoga mat or just a beach towel. It's also ideal for any age and ability level from beginner to advanced.
If you're vacationing solo and have some yoga experience, you can find a spot that feels comfortable and do it on your own, or if you wish to have a little bit of guidance, you can join group beach yoga classes.
This mind-body practice is best known for its stress reducing and mood boosting qualities as well as developing stronger muscles, increased flexibility, weight loss, reduced anxiety, lower blood pressure and less chronic aches and pains. Studies show that a long term yoga practice strengthens bone density, helps maintain a healthy weight, and lowers the risk of heart disease.
If you already have a yoga practice, yoga on the beach is still a different experience. You may find that the sound of the ocean and the fresh air creates an environment of tranquility or you might find the uneven sandy ground makes your downward dog harder to keep aligned.
Regardless of what your experience, every session is going to be different and this shouldn’t discourage you. Remember that when you find yourself in a tight and difficult (yoga) position, draw your breath to keep yourself calm and balanced.
If you are naturally competitive and prefer to work out with other people, then volleyball is perfect for you. You’ll be burning calories in this team sport and not even notice. Plus, you could make some new friends that want to join the fun. Beach volleyball works out every part of your body. To bump, serve and spike, you’ll use your arms, shoulders and chest. And if you find some good players, you’ll be running around, squatting, diving into the sand and using your core to stay balanced.
Stand up Paddle Boarding (SUP) Core Workout
If you want the ultimate hardcore beach workout where your abs will hate you, try challenging your core to a Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) workout on the water, where you and your entire body will be forced to focus on balance and strength through every move — otherwise you’ll end up falling off your board and splashing into the ocean.
If you’re up for the challenge, here are some exercises for SUP beginners to try.
The Plank: Spread your fingers and press evenly down through the hands. Move onto your toes and into a plank pose, keeping the body in an even line from head to heels. Breathe slowly and deeply through your nose, and every time you exhale, pull your navel in toward your spine. Try to hold this pose for one minute.
If you are able to hold that pose, try this one.
Rolling: From the plank pose described earlier, roll your hips from side to side. Make sure to keep the hips level — meaning they shouldn’t sag or lift up. You can try your best to do this rolling motion for approximately one minute.
If that’s okay to do, try this fairly simple move on land that becomes much more challenging on the unstable surface of the board.
Cross Patterning: On all fours, extend your right leg straight back and up so it’s level with your hip. Focus on bringing your navel in toward your spine. As you inhale, extend the left arm in front of your head, so it’s also parallel to the board. As you exhale, lower your arm and leg down, then repeat on the other side. Do reps on each side, breathing in as you extend and breathing out curl in.
If your abs scream bloody murder, simply lay on your back and hug your knees to give them some tender loving care.