How to Walk Your Way to Health at the Beach
We are all familiar with the benefits of walking. Lower blood pressure. Lower blood sugar levels. Stronger bones. Better sleep. Less stress. Happier mood. Increased weight loss. Stronger muscles. And the list goes on and on. The value of a consistent walking workout is sometimes underestimated, though. It happens to be one of the best ways to stay active and fit, even when you're on your beach vacation. It doesn't take any special equipment, can be done just about anywhere by anyone, and best of all—it's totally free. The good news for you is that the beach offers an idyllic setting and a little extra motivation to get out there to exercise and enjoy the views.
Are you ready to step out of your Outer Banks vacation rental and start walking your way to health on your OBX vacation? Good! Here's how to do it. Start your healthy habits now while you're on vacation and then continue them when you get back home. You'll notice the benefits almost immediately.
No need to start off with unrealistic or unattainable goals. It's perfectly fine to start slow and ease into your walking workout. This is especially true if you have a chronic illness, a recovering injury, or you're just out of shape. If you're going to be walking on the beach, you may need to allow yourself a little time to get used to walking on the sand. Start by walking close to the waterline where to the sand is firmer and easier to navigate. Deeper sand causes more stress on your joints and requires more effort and stamina. Work your way up to that!
Consider your current level of fitness when beginning your walking routine. Assess your breathing, heart rate and overall bodily responses. If you're doing too much too fast, dial it down a notch. You can always work up to new and more strenuous levels. If you have any medical conditions, it's important to consult with your physician before starting any kind of exercise routine and heed their recommendations.
Set a walking goal.
Once you have a starting point, it's important to set a goal. Whether it's a time goal, distance goal, or a number of steps goal, give yourself an objective. Current walking recommendations are 30 minutes daily for 5 to 7 days a week. If 30 minutes seems to much for you, breaking it up into three 10-minute walks throughout the day or two 15-minute walks is perfectly fine until you build your endurance. One signal to slow down is when you are unable to talk out loud without needing to catch your breath.
Step goals aim for at least 10,000 steps a day. The average American only walks about half of that—5,000 steps per day. That means that half of your daily step goal already comes from everyday living, so you just have to work to exceed that by adding at least 5,000 more steps into your day. Totally doable! Take a beach stroll each morning and evening. Walk the dog a little longer than usual or more often. Push your child in the stroller during a family walk. Walk around town and explore the area. Go to a local park or trail and see where the path leads you. Park a little farther away from the store than you normally would and get a few extra steps in. Opt for the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator. These are only a few of the many ways you can easily increase your steps to help attain your goal.
It's okay to start slow by choosing a destination to walk to and walk back from when just starting out. From there, you can increase your distance incrementally. Pick a place to start and when you can achieve that goal, push back the distance back and set a new mark. You know how the saying goes: slow and steady wins the race.
Aim for consistency.
Lifestyle changes are just that: a lifestyle. Incorporating walking into your day and your week is important in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Aim for consistency and before you know it, it will become a habit like everything else in your day that you do without much thought. You'll find that you actually look forward to your walks as they are the ideal time to clear your head, meditate, immerse yourself in nature, refocus and reflect.
If you happen to miss a day or get off track, don't beat yourself up about it. Start again the next day and focus on your goal. Every day is a new day to try again. Do your best!
Better health should be your main motivator, but there are additional ways to keep you inspired and motivated to walk. Here are a few suggestions for the times when you feel you need a little extra boost to get your steps in.
- Keep track of your progress with a pedometer, fitness tracker or watch. Just by watching your progress, you'll find intrinsic motivation to do more and do better as you start achieving your goals. It's an accomplishment. Whether you're meeting your step goal, walking a longer distance or for a longer period of time, progress is progress. Celebrate it!
- Walk with a friend. Or with your partner. Or with your kids. The time can pass by pretty quickly when you have someone to walk and talk with. Before you know it, you've met your walking goal and spent quality time with the ones you love and care about all at the same time.
- Create a walking workout playlist on your portable music device. Music is powerful motivator in and of itself, but go ahead and create a workout playlist of your favorites. Alternatives are to listen to your favorite podcasts or audio books.
- Change up your route. Walk somewhere new and different. The beach is a wonderful place to get your daily walk. Breathe in the salty air, feel the sun on your face and the coastal breeze on your skin. Ahhhh, we highly recommend it! But it can be anywhere you don't usually walk. Focus on the scenery and explore new places.
- Change your scenery. Changes of latitude bring changes of attitude, or so Jimmy Buffett says. We tend to agree! Sometimes the best motivator is change. Go somewhere new, see something different, experience life with new eyes. Vacation is the ideal time and place to start your walking workout routine. Take your good habits home with you and continue the journey from there.
- Challenge yourself and add some hills or other more rigorous terrain. Once you know your limits, seek to exceed them. Go ahead and try the softer, deeper sand. Walk up that hill. Add in a few jogging intervals to your walk. Push yourself when you can.
- Reward yourself. Since walking is free, save the money you would have spent at a gym or at a class to reward yourself for meeting your incremental goals. You're worth it!
Once you find yourself reaching your goals, go ahead and create some new ones. Or if you find yourself plateauing, then it's the time to step it up, literally and figuratively. Add challenges to your walking workout whenever you can, but be sure not to overdo it. Hike new terrain, add some weights, or amp up the intensity whenever you feel ready.
Of course, you want to be careful as you do so. If something hurts, that's a sign that you need to ease up. If you you notice any concerning cardiovascular symptoms like shortness of breath, tightness or pain in your chest, dizziness or excessive fatigue, then stop immediately and see a physician.
Reassess your goals and follow your doctor's advice for the best walking workout for you. Do what you can when you can, and work up from there. Walking is very versatile and can be adjusted to fit your needs and abilities, making it one of the most accommodating workouts available.
Happy Walking! We'll look for you on the Outer Banks beaches and around our OBX towns. There are plenty of fun and interesting ways to get your walk in during your beach vacation here.
Speaking of beach vacations, isn't it time you planned your next one?
Stay right on the beach, step right out of your Outer Banks rental and onto the sand.
Where's your favorite place to walk during your Outer Banks, North Carolina beach vacation?