Sneakers stay home

When I hear the words “walk along the beach” my mind instantly fills with visions of hand holding, dream sharing, sunset gazing and perhaps dolphins jumping. In short, romance in its finest form. What does not immediately spring to mind is fitness. Perhaps it should because, in truth, a barefoot walk along the beach makes for an excellent summer workout!

The benefits are many, but let’s start with some researchable facts. Walking in soft, dry sand takes over two times the energy it takes to circle the track at your local gym. You will burn anywhere between 20% to 50% more calories! The sand molds under our arches, something which may prevent plantar fasciitis. The act of sinking into sand and pulling our feet out of it works to strengthen our foot muscles, calves, quadriceps and glutes. Yes, I said it. Walking in the sand makes your tush look great!

A walk along the ocean is the ultimate in pampering without those pesky spa prices. The movement of the sand under your feet is the ultimate foot massage. Sand is also great for exfoliating those rough spots to keep your feet looking summer sandal ready. When you’re done walking, simply step into the salt water to rinse off the dead skin cells and soak up some the natural youth-restoring minerals. Instant pedicure! Just be sure to retouch your toenail polish after you return home.

I love the fact that many treadmills have televisions attached to them these days, but the live, changing scenery you will encounter on your shore-side walk is an even better distraction. With that motivating factor, you may even find that you walk farther and longer than you had originally planned as a result. However, you may want to consider keeping your shoes on if you plan to really put some miles in.

For those who are familiar with the concept of grounding or earthing, stash your kicks in a safe place and reconnect with the world around you. Our feet contain anywhere between 3,000 and 7,000 nerve endings with which to soak up the earth’s energy at sea level. While you’re at it, you can exercise your sense of proprioception, the body’s ability to sense where all your body parts are in relation to each other and your environment. In other words, we don’t need to constantly look to see where our feet are landing and can just pick them up and put them down with some semblance of confidence. Walking barefoot heightens that sense. All of this and a free dose of Vitamin D! Just be sure to wear sunscreen, and don’t forget the tops of your feet that may not have seen the light of day since last summer!

Still seeing romantic visions of a walk along the shore? You should and you don’t need to wait to be invited. Romance is synonymous with love, and as women we sometimes forget that we need to treat ourselves with the same love and caring we shower on our significant others. Love yourself enough to take that barefoot stroll along the beach. Dolphins are optional.

~ By: Cathy Stark Roche

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