Move Your Gym Surfside
Beach Workouts Bring Fun and Variety to Your Routine
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.
On land or in the water, use common sense to stay safe. Cover
up with a strong sun block. Protect your eyes with sunglasses that provide UV
protection when on land and with goggles when in the water. Swim only with a
buddy or where a lifeguard can see you. Ask a local lifeguard about what to
watch out for in the area where you want to swim.
You should also consider that ocean water is colder than pool
water, so you'll fatigue faster when swimming in the sea. Don't stay in cold
water too long or you risk developing hypothermia, where your body
temperature drops below normal levels. On shore, you risk
hyperthermia, where your body temperature gets too high. Keep drinking
water while active on the beach, and rest in the shade if you start feeling
dizzy or faint.
New York City-based personal trainer and exercise physiologist
Paul Lauer leads an exercise class at the beach in New Jersey. He never lets
anyone in the water early in the season. Instead, he waits until later in the
summer, when the water temperature rises to the mid-60s. He also tells his
exercisers to drink 16-20 ounces (about two big glasses) of water an hour or so
before hitting the beach and to drink constantly while working out.