Nothing means summer like family trips to the beach and long walks in the sand. There is something healing when we connect to nature and move our toes in the sand.
We can easily name pitfalls to walking barefoot on the beach: – sharp objects, animal droppings, dead fish, etc.; however, there are far more benefits if we are careful when, where, and for how long we walk.
Below are six benefits to going barefoot on the beach and exercising your feet in the sand.
Strengthening the foot and leg muscles: Sand, especially soft sand, provides a natural resistance with each step we take. This means that walking on sand requires more effort and strength of the foot and lower leg muscles.
Remember to gradually increase the time of each walk so as to not overstress the foot and leg muscles. Certain foot types, such as flat feet, can easily strain their foot tendons and plantar fascia leading to foot pain. Always remember to listen to the body.
Burning Calories: Walking in the sand with or without shoes uses more energy than walking on hard, flat surfaces. One study from BerkleyWellness.com showed as much as a 50% increase in calorie burn compared to walking the same distance in the same time on pavement.
Due to the instability created by softer sand, if increased caloric burn is your goal then focus on walking on the soft, dry sand vs. the hard, wet sand.
Massaging and Exfoliating the Feet: Besides feeling great, a brisk walk on sand gently massages the muscles of the feet and activates venous and lymphatic circulation. In addition, sand is a great natural exfoliant and effective way to treat calluses and dry skin on the bottom of the feet.
Grounding: The ground, including sand, is electrically charged with an excess of negative ions, which are absorbed through the soles of the feet. The negatively charged ions provide a strong source of anti-oxidants in the body, which produce many health benefits, one of which is thought to be an anti-inflammatory effect.
Improving Proprioception: With around 5,000 nerve endings on the bottom of each foot, walking barefoot in the sand makes us keenly aware of where we are walking and what we are walking on. You can think of a walk on the beach barefoot as a way to wake up the brain and to support brain : body connections.
Stress Release: A walk on the beach is the perfect way to end a long day, relieve stress and connect with nature. All the sights, sounds and sensations experienced during a walk on the beach are a natural way to calm the nervous system and establish calmness.
Don’t forget, start off slowly with a short distance then gradually increase the time or distance every day. Wear sunscreen and a hat if you are not used to the sun protect your feet.