Workout in the Waves

Don't just lie there with a book in hand. Get off your beach towel, have fun and get fit!

The smell of coconut suntan lotion wafts over the salty breeze; cooing seagulls punctuate the lullaby of waves lapping the shoreline. Summer's here! Round up the kids, pack up the car and head to the beach.

This year, try a different kind of day at the beach. Get off your beach towel and start moving! You'll have so much fun frolicking in the surf and sand that you won't even notice you're getting a workout.

Got kids with you? Make sure they take part in a variety of beach activities, too. Not only is it good for all of you, it instills healthy lifestyle habits, improves self-esteem and develops sports skills that your children will carry with them for life.

In the water
The possibilities for aquatic exercise at the beach are nearly limitless: swimming, bodysurfing, boogie-boarding, surfing, windsurfing, kayaking, snorkeling and waist-deep water walking. Whatever you choose, the common denominator is that they're all fun and they all burn loads of calories. It's like exercising on a big liquid treadmill.

On land
Water doesn't float your boat? No problem! Grab some buckets and shovels, and get to work on a large sand castle. Put your whole body into it — heaving heavy buckets of sand and running to get more water will work some muscles you never even knew you had.

Beach sports offer great ways to have fun, keep fit and improve overall athletic skills. Throwing a ball or playing badminton, paddleball or beach tennis all challenge your speed, agility and hand-eye coordination. Beach volleyball calls on your hips and legs for running and jumping and your upper body for striking the ball — it also builds team spirit among all participants. And there's nothing like a good old-fashioned game of catch or kicking a soccer ball. But as with all beach activities, make sure to find an open area away from other beach-goers. Nobody likes an errant ball landing in the lap.

Feel the burn
Here are how many calories (approximately) a 150-pound person will burn per hour of several beach sports. (Calories burned will be higher or lower depending on your body weight.)

Activity Calories per Hour
Playing catch: baseball, football 175
Playing Frisbee® 205
Building sand castles 210-315
Surfing, body or board 205
Water walking 280-560
Kayaking 340
Snorkeling 340
Beach racquet activities: paddleball, badminton, tennis 300-500
Ocean swimming 410
Beach soccer 500
Beach volleyball 545

Source: Exercise Testing and Prescription, by David C. Nieman

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