Move Your Gym Surfside

Beach Workouts Bring Fun and Variety to Your Routine

By Alison Palkhivala
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD

Don't let fear of a shark attack scare you away from occasionally moving your workout to the beach. It can add fun and variety to your routine, and as long as you follow a few simple guidelines, it's quite safe as well.

In sunny Southern California, working out at the beach is common practice. Gary Brazina, MD, a Los Angeles orthopaedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine, says that "too many people think of working out at the gym as the only way to exercise. Certainly the beach offers the option to be outside and enjoy your workout as opposed to thinking of it as a punishment. The nice thing is you can do cross-training at the beach easily. You can add running, walking in soft sand, and swimming [to your routine], and you can combine this aerobic exercise program nicely."

The advantage of running or walking on the beach is that the sandy surface has some give, making the exercise less jarring on your joints. The disadvantage is that you may have to walk or run on an angled surface. Try to find as flat a surface as possible to run or walk on.

Swimming in the ocean, as anyone who's tried it will tell you, is great fun. Hazards you may encounter include sea life and rip currents, which can carry you out to sea.

"Sea life is always a bit of a problem," says Brazina. "Shark attacks are...dramatic but very rare." On the other hand, he says, jellyfish are very common in South Florida, as are sea lice, immature forms of jellyfish that are quite painful.