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Positive Effects of Beach Walking

by Naomi Black - Published by Baja Good Life Club 2008

There is nothing in the world quite like a walk on the beach to energize your spirit, organize your thoughts and give your body an enjoyable workout. Bare feet sinking into the soft, wet and sun-warmed sand can be a form of exercise that is invigorating and therapeutic.
The massaging effect of walking barefoot on a soft sandy beach has been proven to have major health benefits. Walking barefoot relaxes your soul while putting your mind at ease. But not only that, walking barefoot may prevent varicose veins due to the fact that the natural motion of the foot, unrestricted by shoes, allows for much better circulation of blood in the legs. Your muscles and tendons will work harder as your foot moves to shape itself into the sand on each step. Prevention Magazine, in its July 2008 issue,
recommends walking barefoot since, “walking without shoes, particularly on the sand, exercises toes and arches to improve shock absorption and balance and possibly prevent injuries.” Of course, if your feet are not used to walking barefoot, it is wise to start off with a 5-minute walk and slowly work up to a longer walk.

After just a few minutes of walking in soft sand, you will notice that you are working much harder than walking on hard-packed sand or any other hard surface. In fact, walking in soft sand requires up to two and a half times more energy than the same walk on a hard surface; therefore, you may also burn as much as 50 percent more calories on the same walk.

A walk on the beach with friends is a great form of “talk therapy.” Friends or family may walk together and discuss a variety of ideas or problems; perhaps the serenity of the crashing waves and swooping seagulls will give a perspective to sorting out what is important in life from the mundane. However, at times it may also be better to set boundaries to keep the conversation upbeat and positive. A walk on the beach may be a great time to reminisce about other favorite trips to the beach.
Others may prefer the serenity of a lone walk along the shore. At times, beachcombing may be an enjoyable alternative to a fast-paced walk for exercise. Any refreshing walk in the salt air may improve your well-being. This may be somewhat of a psychological effect. However, these positive effects have actually been documented as a person may experience an increased energy level, a release of tension and stress and even better sleep at night after a walk on the beach.

Some studies suggest that the healing effects of sea water, salty air and natural sunlight all are another important aspect of a walk on the beach. Sea water is rich in salt and minerals which have a strong healing effect. Sea air is rich in what is called “negative particles” that are thought to be therapeutic in improving our sense of peace and well-being. Natural sunlight is used to manage vitamin D deficiencies along with the mood disorder known as seasonal effective disorder.

You could choose to walk in the soft sand on a deserted sand dune, but you chose the seashore. So, don’t forget to look up! Observe the splendor of the changing colors on a sunrise or sunset walk, the power of the crashing waves or the glassy smooth beauty of a calm sea. You may see dancing dolphins, strutting herons, diving seagulls, jumping fish or nervous little sand pipers. Perhaps on the horizon there are shrimp boats or sailboats. A walk on the beach is a healthy, positive moment to enjoy.

Always remember to consult with your physician, wear sunscreen and respect nature.

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