3 Ways to Stay Active While on Vacation at the Beach
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2016 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and readability.
The beauty of vacation! It is a time to relax, let loose, and just have some fun. Which means that healthy eating habits along with exercise fly out the window. Usually. Especially when there are as many delicious temptations as there are right here in Sunset Beach. Well, guess what? That doesn’t have to be so!
And don’t worry, we aren’t advocating that you only eat salads while here or that you drive to a gym to keep up your workout routine. After all, vacation is all about relaxing and indulging. Instead, all you need to do to stay healthy and active on vacation is to get outside, pick an activity you enjoy, breath deeply of the clean fresh air, and enjoy! And don’t forget to pack your sneakers and water shoes!
Hiking and biking trails are a great way to explore new places and get you moving. To making your searching easier go to www.trails.com. It is an excellent source to find both hiking and biking trails. Simply enter the zip code or city you will be visiting and it does the searching for you. Another great resource is the Map My Hike app for your smart phone. This handy tool will allow you to map out your hike, log your distance and calories burned, plus share with your friends on social media all the fun you're having while on vacation.
Not only will hiking in the woods keep you trim by burning calories and contribute to your lasting health by building your cardiovascular strength, it will also reduce your stress levels. That’s right. Just like all other cardiovascular exercise (whether strenuous or not, it just needs to elevate your heart rate a bit), hiking through the woods reduces the adrenaline and cortisol that your body secretes while upping your body’s endorphin levels. (Endorphins, for those of us who haven't been in a science class for a while, are what our bodies create to dull pain and lift our mood.) Plus, being out in nature has an unexplainably relaxing effect all in itself. When a brilliant song bird darts in front of you, you inadvertently smile. Maybe such moments just make you happier. Or maybe they extend your life just a little bit. Either way, they are worth it!
Kayaking and Other Water Sports
What better way to explore the gorgeous North Carolina coastal waters than by, you guessed it, WATER! Surf Unlimited, in Ocean Isle, offers a variety of kayak tour options. If you've never been kayaking, it is definitely a work out you won't forget. One minute you'll be drifting along, the next you'll be paddling to keep from getting off course. Your upper body will more than likely feel it the next day! Your upper body won't be the only muscles working though. Your core and lower body will be working together to keep you going the right direction. It's also a great cardiovascular workout, without the drawback of you being bored to tears on a treadmill. Don't let us scare you though. Kayaking is also an extremely peaceful pastime for many people. It'll help you clear your mind all while seeing some of the most beautiful landscapes you've ever seen. From the perspective of the water rather than the land. Which sometimes is the most beautiful perspective to take.
Since you'll be on the water and in the sun for possibly several hours it's important that you stay well hydrated. Take a few extra bottles of water, a wide brimmed hat and sunblock. You may also need a snack as you'll be exerting more energy and will need to refuel. A bag of almonds, apples and trail mix are all great kayaking snacks. Just be sure to bring any and all of your trash back with you to shore! We wouldn’t want to disrupt the beautiful ocean ecosystems or choke any sea turtles.
If you want an even greater challenge, requiring (and building!) balance as well as upper body and core muscle strength, then you might want to try paddle boarding. Surf Unlimited rents paddle boards, along with surf boards and kayaks.
Walking Barefoot on the Beach
Walking barefoot on the Beach may not seem like it would be good for your health but we're here to prove that theory wrong. When we say we need sun and sand therapy, we mean it! Since sand provides resistance while you walk, it requires more work than normal from your legs and feet. This by itself makes for a more challenging walk than if you were on concrete or a treadmill. The beach is an uneven surface so while you walk it requires you to use your core which increases your stability and coordination. Walking on sand also burns more calories than walking on the road. We think everyone would agree that walking on the beach is also beneficial to our mental health as well as our physical health. Listening to the waves crash and birds sing is one of the most magnificent sounds we've ever heard! One more benefit of barefoot beach walking is that sand is a great exfoliator for your feet. The sand will help slough off the dead skin on your feet leaving them feeling soft and smooth. Let's face it, the feeling of sand between your toes is one that can't be described in mere words.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle while you are on vacation at the beach doesn't have to be a challenge! In fact, it can be quite a delight. There are delicious seafood choices such as roasted fish, steamed shrimp and grilled veggies that will allow you to stick to your healthy eating habits without feeling the least bit deprived. Staying active at the beach can be a simple, easy delight too. Parking a little further away, taking the stairs instead of elevators, walking or biking to the restaurant for dinner, waking early to walk on the beach: all of these are little extras you can add into your day to move a little more while you're away from home. Being on vacation can be fun, relaxing and healthy.
Please tell us your favorite ways to incorporate a healthy lifestyle while at the beach! We are always looking to add to our fun-activity repertoire.