Nothing feels better than sand between your toes—particularly when you feel “beach ready” with your in-shape bod. But don’t wait to hit the sand until after your workout; instead work towards your beach bod right there in the sand where your workout will be more effective. Here’s why beach workouts will lead to a beach body you’ve only dreamed of. (Pssst. That dream is about to become reality with these tips.)

Sand and Water: Elements for a Better Exercise

Why is working out in the sand a better way for you to reach your beach body? The natural elements of sand and water, as it turns out, offer their own unique challenges that will make your exercise more effective without you really noticing. For example, running in the sand increases resistance making you work harder. Water does the same, though swimming is easier on joints, making it a good workout without being too hard on your body. While the fresh air and scenery tend to keep your mind occupied, the shifting ground beneath your feet engage muscles that would otherwise be dormant in the gym.

Beach Exercises for You

Regardless of what your style is, there are a multitude of exercises you can bring with you to the beach. Here are our favorites that will help you reach your desired beach bod without ever leaving the sand.

  • Beach Yoga

    • Benefit: A shifting foundation challenges your balance, while the warmth of the sand can benefit your muscles. Doing yoga on the beach also means that your joints are instantly cushioned, particularly in kneeling positions. Bring a printout, like these ones from Charmed Yoga, and follow along or just flow through a sun salutation before you take off running down the beach.

    • Tip: Use the sand to support your wrists in positions such as Downward-Facing Dog; dig your fists into the sand, allowing your wrists to straighten, as this will aid in avoiding over-extension.

  • Beach Running

    • Benefit: Running through the sand is nothing like a jog on pavement! With a cushioned step, running on the beach will protect your joints from impact injuries while the sand also encourages you to use a greater range of motion in your stride, assisting in stretching your muscles. You can burn up to 1.6 times as many calories by replacing pavement with sand.

    • Tip: Slowly try introducing barefoot running into your beach workout regime, as this will help to strengthen the arch of the foot as well as the quads and the muscles below the knee.

  • Beach Volleyball

    • Benefit: A better leg workout than what you’d get on a hard court is promised with beach volleyball, as is a softer fall for those tough serves. It's also a great way to get sun kissed while squeezing in a workout. Of course, remember to slather on the sunscreen to protect yourself from skin damage.

    • Tip: Work on jumping at your normal height, even though this requires extra effort on the sand.

  • The Beach Crawl

    • Benefit: A greater workout with the unstable, sandy ground, this plank position exercise requires you to crawl in the sand in plank position for 30 to 60 seconds, activating your glutes and hamstrings. Essentially, drop to your elbows in plank position, then army crawl your way forward, scooching each arm up, with your toes in tandem. Imagine yourself as G.I. Jane.

    • Tip: For an extra challenge, repeat the beach crawl moving backward or sideways.

Whether it’s an excuse to get outside, a desire to get fit or an eagerness to be near the ocean, working out in the sand has ample benefits to make you feel toned and refreshed. Feel free to take a dip in the cool ocean once you're finished!

Photos: David Campbell, Ditty_about_summer / Shutterstock