Different running surfaces have an impact on your workout, but there is no workout like running on the beach. It is a huge challenge for even the most advanced runners, but if you are up for the challenge, beach running is physically beneficial and mentally rewarding.
The Tampa area has some of the most beautiful beaches in the country, and all of them are about 45 minutes from the USF Tampa campus. Bring your sneakers the next time you plan a beach day, and get a quick workout in by the shoreline.
Here are four benefits and tips for your next beach run:
- Feel the breeze: Summertime in Florida is dangerously hot. Scheduling your beach run for sunset not only relaxes your mind, but also creates the perfect running atmosphere. The cool sea breeze is a refreshing change from the city heat. However, keep in mind that Florida is prone to sporadic thunderstorms during summer, and if a storm hits the shore you need to take shelter immediately.
- Get a Better Workout: Running on sand requires about 1.6 times more energy than running on the road, treadmill, or sidewalk. The sand creates resistance on your ankles, feet, and calves, so your body has to work harder to move forward. Running on sand is actually comparable to hill sprinting workouts which are hard to come by in Florida. Even more impressive, walking on sand requires 2.1 – 2.7 times more energy than walking on harder surfaces, so taking a long walk on the beach is a great workout for your legs as well. However, if you have common ankle problems be careful to stay on the harder sand near the shore.
- Protect Your Joints: Although you will probably feel sorer after a beach workout, running on sand is actually good for your body. When you run on harder surfaces your joints are under a lot of pressure, so the softness of the sand is a relief on your knees. The sand closest to the tide is the most beneficial place to run on. The hard packed surface and even level will keep your joints in low risk positions.
- Enjoy Yourself: I can’t think of anything more beautiful or calming than the beach at sunset, and it’s not just me! Studies have shown that when compared to the treadmill, outdoor running generates 50% more mental health benefits, and running along the coast is the most psychologically restorative environment. It reduces stress, improves mood and concentration, and is correlated with a high quality of life.