By Karen Trom from the February 2012 Edition
Change your CHOICES, Change your LIFE
Exercise on the Beach
If you come from a climate that experiences less than perfect weather, you know it can be difficult to get the recommended 2.5 hours of moderate activity each week. I’m from Wisconsin and am NOT looking forward to heading out in below zero weather to go the gym. But, here in Manzanillo we have no excuse. The weather is beautiful and there are plenty of activities to help you stay healthy and happy! If you need some motivation to get out, there are plenty of dogs who need a home and would love to enjoy a walk every day. Click here for the PATA website, you might just find a great workout buddy!
While the beach is great place to relax and drink beer, it is also a great place for a workout. There are countless activities you can do at the beach that will provide you with health benefits, though they won’t seem like exercise at all. Enjoy the fresh air, sounds of the ocean, and the sand under your feet as you get into these exercises that are suitable for your next trip to the beach.
Start with a warm up on hard sand, walking briskly and swinging your arms. Remember, walking or running on an irregular, inconsistent surface such as sand, the forces that go through the feet, ankles, knees and hips vary dramatically and can predispose you to injury in any one of these body parts. It is therefore important to take care to watch where you are running and to warm up properly. You don’t want to fall into one of the many holes that kids like to dig in the sand. Also remember to wear sunscreen and stay hydrated. It is best to hit the beach early in the morning but I also see many people out after dark although these seem to be the really hard-core triathlon types!
After a 5 minute warm up, you can increase the intensity by moving into soft sand. Keeping the same pace and pushing through the soft stuff will really get your heart pumping and build leg strength. Another option is to run as fast as you can for 10 seconds, then walk for 1 minute. Run for 20 seconds, walk for 1 minute. Run for 30 seconds, walk for one minute. Do this series 3 times- whew- you are sweating now! If this is too intense, start with one series and build up as you increase your cardio endurance.
Halfway through your walk/run is a great time for some stretches. Your muscles are warm and you aren’t too tired. If your heart is beating quickly, slow your pace, take some deep breaths and cool down a bit before stopping. Never stop suddenly when your heart is pounding, it can lead to dizziness or fainting.
Start with some knee lifts, these are easy but can be a challenge on sand. You can do this while standing in place or walking. Slowly lift your knees, one at a time, up in front of you just until you feel a bit of tension in your hamstrings and glutes (back of legs and butt). Alternate legs until you have done 10 on each side.
Next, do some slow bends. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and a slight bend in your knees, arms out front with palms facing your body. Slowly bend at the waist so your fingertips move toward your feet. When you feel your hamstrings tighten, pause for a bit (3 seconds) and return to the start position. Do 10-15 of these, stretching a bit more each time.
There are lots more stretches and strength moves that you can incorporate but in the interest of space, let’s continue with our walk. Keep those arms swinging, (yes, I am the one walking with her arms pumping up and down, back and forth, and every which way!), and have a spring in your step. Before you know it, 30 minutes have passed and you feel great. Strive to do this 5 days a week for optimum health benefits. Of course walking is great for cardio endurance and toning your legs and butt, but your arms are always on display so why not give them a workout while we are at it. Get a pair of 5 pound dumbbells and carry one in each hand while walking.
Do not do this more than twice a week and don’t swing your arms too much. Hold your arms at a 90 degree angle and close to your sides. Make sure you don’t go too far from home – trust me, your biceps, triceps, and shoulders will get tired from just that bit of extra weight. Stop walking and do some bicep curls, shoulder presses, and tricep kickbacks for extra credit.
While the beach is great, it is mostly flat so shake things up by finding a course that incorporates some hills. I walk on Playa Miramar and one of my favorite routes is walking to Palma Real and taking the hill up to the top. It has a paved section so you aren’t on cobblestones and the view at the top is lovely when stopping to catch your breath. Don’t be afraid to walk down and then climb it again.
You don’t need lots of fancy equipment to stay in shape; I have a pair of dumbbells, a band, an exercise ball, and a mat-all of these items can be purchased right here in Manzanillo.
If you don’t want to invest in equipment, there are many body-weight exercises that will help you build and retain muscle. I would be happy to help you create a routine or develop a workout that will fit your needs, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can hit the beach together!