Running on the beach can work your body harder without you even realising. And with the promise of a more effective workout – plus the nice weather and the beautiful surroundings, of course – going for a morning jog on the beach while on holiday actually sounds quite appealing.
The main benefit comes from how different sand is as a terrain compared to running on a pavement or a track. As you push off, you’re going to lose some of your push as the sand moves. Being so uneven, the sand is constantly moving and changing step to step. This gives your body an extra workout because you have to use muscles that don’t usually get engaged when running on firmer surfaces.
Your core in particular will get an enhanced workout, as will other muscles in your lower legs and lower back. But running on sand does come with some downsides, too. This extra exertion can leave you feeling more sore than you otherwise might after a run.
The sand has “high shock absorptive qualities”, if you’re exercising at a high intensity on the beach, you’re actually less likely to cause muscle damage due to how shock absorptive the terrain is. And there’s scientific evidence to back it up. One study, published in 2017 in the European Journal of Sport Science, showed that women had less indication of muscle inflammation in their blood after running on the sand, compared to when they ran on grass.