In the modern world of step-counting apps, pedometers, and fitness trackers, walking is finally getting the attention it deserves as an amazing workout. But well before counting your steps was cool, beach walking was (and still is) known to be one of the best types of physical activity, especially if you’re rocking a great pair of beach sandals.
Whether you like powering through the sand with a workout buddy, taking a leisurely sunset stroll with your partner, or rolling solo as the tide splashes your ankles, the benefits of walking on the beach are undeniable.
How Walking on the Beach Benefits Your Health
Even though trudging through the sand isn’t easy, simply being near the ocean can be so enjoyable and calming you forget you’re exerting yourself. This unique combo of challenging yet pleasant might be why there are so many benefits of walking on the beach. We broke down the main advantages below.
Every time you take a step on the beach, your foot sinks slightly into the soft sand, requiring more effort than usual to lift it back up and take the next step. In essence, the sand creates added resistance, like squatting with weights versus using just your own body weight.
The additional effort it takes to propel your body forward can help tone and strengthen the muscles and tendons in your calves, thighs, and glutes. Besides the sinking sand effect, walking on uneven terrain can have muscle-toning benefits, as it activates different leg muscle groups than walking on flat land.¹
Better Balance and Coordination
Walking on uneven sand challenges your muscles in another way, too, requiring you to constantly adjust and stabilize to avoid falling down. Since this takes balance and coordination, your brain and body must work in-sync to keep you on your feet at the beach. For these reasons, a beach walk is an excellent agility exercise and knowing how to protect your feet at the beach can enhance your overall experience.
As your muscles engage and your balance is continuously challenged, your lungs are bound to start pumping—and that’s a good thing. The harder you work to move through the sand, the more oxygen your body needs to keep going.²
This means harder breathing, a higher heart rate, and most likely, sweat. In other words, walking on the beach checks all the boxes for a great aerobic workout.
When we think of calories, we often think in terms of food. But a calorie is technically a measurement of energy.³ The calories you eat are converted into energy, and as you walk along the beach with your muscles engaged, your balanced challenged, your heart pumping, and your brow sweating, you’re using up that energy, and thus burning calories.⁴
Vitamin D (AKA “the sunshine vitamin”) is essential for everyone. While you can get your daily dose from food and supplements, people who live in colder, cloudier regions are more likely to be deficient than those who regularly spend time in the sun.⁵
Walking on the beach for just 15 minutes can provide you with all the vitamin D you need for the day. Humans need vitamin D to absorb calcium, which is necessary for healthy bones and teeth.⁶ It might also help ward off certain diseases like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and some cancers.⁷
You can’t really get too much vitamin D from the sun, and yet, it is possible to get too much sun. While a little UV exposure can be beneficial, wearing SPF is crucial. Make sure to generously rub sunscreen all over your body, and reapply it every couple of hours while at the beach.
You’ve probably heard the phrase get “Get some fresh air” so many times, it almost sounds like a cliché. But as it turns out, there might actually be health benefits to breathing in the outdoor air.
There’s no doubt that good air quality is a crucial part of overall health.⁸ And for those who live in urban areas or spend a lot of their day cooped up indoors, breathing in the oxygen from the ocean breeze can make you feel better both mentally and physically.
Soothing Sounds and Scents
There’s a reason scented candles and white noise machines mimic the smells and sounds of the ocean. Walking on the beach ignites all your senses, and hearing the rhythmic sound of waves crashing can make you feel calm and happy. This might be part of the reason why listening to the sound of waves can help you fall asleep and stay asleep.⁹
The benefits of breathing in the ocean breeze go beyond fresh air and oxygen. Your sense of smell is closely related to memory.¹⁰ For a lot of folks, the saltwater scent of the ocean and even the smell of sunscreen can trigger positive memories of carefree days spent at the beach. As a result, you may feel less stressed and at ease while strolling on the coastline.
Unlike being at work or scrolling mindlessly on your phone, spending time in nature while doing something you love can provide serious mood-boosting benefits. If the ocean is your happy place, you can really live in the moment.
Not only that, but the deep blue hue of the ocean is associated with peacefulness and feelings of calm.¹¹ Looking out over the water as you walk along the beach can make you feel content and give you a more positive outlook on life.
What Are the Best Shoes for Walking on the Beach?
If you like walking on the beach as much as the footwear enthusiasts here at Vionic, you’ll need a pair of supportive shoes. Inspired by his own love for sand and surf, our founder, renowned podiatrist Phillip Vasyli, set out to design beach-ready shoes that offer arch support and stability without being too heavy or stiff.
The result was a line of stylish toe-post walking sandals, flip-flops, espadrilles, and flexible slip-on sneakers with built-in orthotics. All our beach styles are made for walking, splashing, and prancing around on the sand and in the tide. Plus, they’re versatile enough to wear to and from the beach, on the pavement, on nearby paths, and wherever else you’re headed.
To reap all the benefits of walking on the shoreline, grab a pair of Vionic beach shoes today!
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6. “Vitamin D”. NHS. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-d/
7. “Time for more vitamin D”. Harvard health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/time-for-more-vitamin-d
8. Sarris, Jerome et al. “Harnessing the Four Elements for Mental Health.” Frontiers in psychiatry vol. 10 256. 24 Apr. 2019, doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00256
9. Farokhnezhad Afshar, Pouya et al. “Effect of White Noise on Sleep in Patients Admitted to a Coronary Care.” Journal of caring sciences vol. 5,2 103-9. 1 Jun. 2016, doi:10.15171/jcs.2016.011
10. Colleen Walsh. “What the nose knows”. The Harvard Gazette. Feb 27, 2020, https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2020/02/how-scent-emotion-and-memory-are-intertwined-and-exploited/
11. Ephrat Livni, “Blue Mind science proves the health benefits of being by water”. Quartz. https://qz.com/1347904/blue-mind-science-proves-the-health-benefits-of-being-by-water/