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13 Fun Ways to Work Out on the Beach

When you’re at the beach, all you usually want to do is soak up the sun. We get that. But getting in a workout on the sand is not only fun, it also challenges your body in ways you can’t in the gym — and it’ll make you feel great.

“Your body craves daily movement someway, somehow. And it doesn’t have to be all-out, balls-to-the-wall,” says certified functional strength coach Samantha Ciaccia, who leads beach workouts for Ketanga Fitness Retreats. “Whether you do a hard workout or simple bodyweight or mobility exercises, your brain releases the feel-good chemical serotonin, which makes you feel more awake and alive to fully enjoy your vacation.”

Since most Americans only take half their vacation days, we should maximize those days! So grab a water bottle, slather on the sunscreen and try some of these fun ways to get in a workout on the beach.

1. COMBINE LOUNGING WITH TONING

If you are the type who just wants to relax, try Ciaccia’s tip to get an added workout while lounging. “At some point, you have to change position. Every time you shift or get up, do a set of 10–12 pushups or situps, alternating between the two,” she suggests. By the end of the day, you will have some color and a good number of exercises under your belt.

2. GET MOBILE

Another low-intensity option is to do some mobility work on your towel, opening your joints and loosening your muscles. Ciaccia suggests making sure to hit your ankles, hips, thoracic spine, shoulders and lumbar to cervical spine. Here is one suggested move for each of these:

  • Ankles: Lunge one foot forward and place back knee on the ground. Place hands on both sides of front foot and lean into your front ankle. Switch sides and repeat.
  • Hips: Drop into a low squat with feet wide and butt close to the ground. Bring palms together in front of chest and place elbows inside thighs, pushing them open. Then, begin to draw figure eights with knees and focus on opening your hips.
  • Thoracic spine: Lie on your side with your bottom leg straight and top knee bent at 90 degrees in line with your hip. Extend arms out in front of you, palms touching. On an exhale, slide your top hand past your bottom, opening your upper back. Return to start on an inhale. Take 3 breaths on each side.
  • Shoulders: From the same position as above, flip your top hand to palm up. On an exhale, keeping your top arm straight, drag your fingertips above your head and behind you, drawing a rainbow. Only go until your bent knee begins to come off the ground. Return to start on an inhale. Perform 3 breaths on each side.
  • Lumbar to cervical spine: Perform slow, intentional cat-cow movements.

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3. DO A MINI BOOTCAMP WITH A PARTNER

Workouts are more fun when you do them with someone, so grab a friend and do this workout from Christianne Phillips, director of mind and movement at 1 Hotel South Beach. You will alternate moves: Person A runs into the water and, once it’s deep enough to swim, swims 20 strokes out. Then, they turn around and swim 20 strokes back toward the sand and run out of the water.

While they do this, Person B is on the shore doing one bodyweight exercise the entire time. Once Person A is back to shore, you’ll switch and Person B swims while Person A does the bodyweight move.

The bodyweight movements can include the following exercises, ending with burpees as the last round: plank with shoulder taps, air squats, situps with your head toward (but never in!) the water, reverse lunges and burpees.

4. PRACTICE HEADSTANDS

Calling all yogis: If you are scared to practice inversions on a hard floor or away from a wall, try doing so on the forgiving soft sand. If you fall, it won’t hurt nearly as much — if at all. Put down a towel and pat down a space that’s as level as possible to put your head and hands or forearms on, recommends Phillips, who learned headstands by practicing on the beach. Then follow our step-by-step guide to master headstands!

5. PLAY PADDLEBALL

Although this game will never win the title of ultimate calorie burner, it does get you moving. The more you have to reach for the ball, the better. “Paddleball, football, Frisbee — all of those games are better than sitting there, for sure,” Phillips says. She likes to throw a football in the water with her sons. “It’s refreshing and it’s fun to dive for the ball and end up in the water,” she says. “We purposely throw it to the side so we can jump for it and throw ourselves in the water.”

6. PLAY VOLLEYBALL

If you want a sport that will burn more calories, get your Kerri Walsh Jennings on! Volleyball helps improve your agility, speed and hand-eye coordination, plus it counts as both metabolic training and strength training, Ciaccia says. This all keeps your brain sharp, boosts heart health, builds muscle from head to toe and helps you strengthen your neuromuscular response. This can help you to catch yourself from falling if you trip on that pesky living room rug.

7. GO FOR A RUN

When you combine bare feet and unstable sand, you quickly find running on the beach is hard! “Your shoes provide a cushion, and when you take that away, ligaments and muscles that aren’t typically used are being activated,” Ciaccia explains.

Beach running helps stabilize your foot and ankle joints and strengthen different leg muscles than a run on a treadmill or pavement does. However, both Ciaccia and Phillips caution that you will probably be able to run for less time and shorter distances on the beach than you normally do on other surfaces. Listen to your body because if you push it too hard, you could end up injured.

8. CHALLENGE SOMEONE TO SUICIDE SPRINTS

To amp up your run, grab some friends and pick a few landmarks to do suicide sprints with. You might run to the lifeguard stand and back, then to a rock and back and then to someone’s towel and back. Either way, you’ll be sweaty and breathless at the end.

9. TAKE A WALK

Meandering along the water’s edge can be more than just a stroll. Pick up the pace a bit or, if you are with a friend, have them jump on your back and take turns piggybacking each other, Ciaccia suggests. You can also alternate: One of you does 10 walking lunges while the other walks, then you switch. Try lateral lunges to work your body in more planes of motion.

10. DO A WATER WORKOUT

Water aerobics aren’t just for the seniors in your gym’s pool. Phillips recommends trying squats, lateral lunges, skaters and the bottom part of a jumping jack in the ocean. Be sure the water comes up to at least your waist so you get the added resistance of the water, which will make you work your inner and outer thighs more. To do water “crunches,” perform high knees while standing or, while treading water, pull your knees up to your chest like a hanging leg raise.

11. TRY STAND-UP PADDLEBOARDING

There are two big benefits of SUP. The first is balance. “While you are standing on the board, your brain muscles are in overdrive trying to not let you fall. This translates into helping you prevent falls in everyday life,” Ciaccia says.

The second benefit is strength. “Your muscles are contracting as you grip your feet on the board, squeeze your glutes and activate your core. You’re increasing isometric strength all around,” she adds.

12. GO KAYAKING

If you’ve never been in a kayak, you know that it’s a LOT of work. “It’s a perfect upper-body and core workout,” Phillips says. You’ll work your back, chest, shoulders, arms and even your legs some, as they help you balance. Plus, it’s great cardio.

13. DIY A BODYWEIGHT WORKOUT

To get your strength training on, create your own total-body beach circuit. Simply pick one upper body, one lower body, one core and one dynamic exercise (such as skaters or burpees). Do each exercise for 7–10 reps. Repeat that circuit twice.

Then, pick four new exercises and repeat that circuit twice. “Within half an hour, you will be done, but you won’t be dying,” Ciaccia says. “That’s key because you don’t want to be exhausted the rest of day — you want to feel refreshed and alive.”

Written by Brittany Risher, a writer, editor and digital strategist specializing in health and lifestyle content. To stay sane from working too hard, she turns to yoga, strength training, meditation and scotch. Connect with her on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.


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Is ‘Second Breakfast’ Your Secret Weapon for Weight Loss?

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” We’ve been hearing that mantra for decades from nutritionists and other health professionals who argue the benefits of jump-starting our engines for better health.

But now, some research is leading us to believe it might be better to eat not once, but twice, before the midday meal.

Let’s back up for a moment. Overall research on breakfast is contradicting. Some studies show eating a healthy breakfast leads to improved memory and cognition, elevates mood and even aids in weight-loss efforts. Other studies argue skipping breakfast doesn’t necessarily help or harm weight-loss efforts or metabolism, though it may be linked to lower energy levels during physical activity and less stable blood sugars in the afternoon and evening.

And now, a third party is suggesting a second breakfast may be as good (if not better) than just one. After following the eating habits of students at 12 middle schools for more than two years, researchers from Yale and the University of Connecticut found a double breakfast may actually increase your ability to maintain a healthy weight.

The reasoning? Not starting the day (and your metabolism) with breakfast may lead to overeating later in the day. In the study, frequent breakfast skippers had greater odds of becoming overweight or obese compared to those who had breakfast twice. The study also found no difference in weight-gain or weight-loss patterns between the students who ate two breakfasts versus those who ate just one.

Not convinced? Consider the habits of early risers, who set the alarm well before sunup. Researchers from the Obesity Society recently found that people who wake up early are more likely to eat a more balanced diet, inclusive of healthier, more high-energy and nutrient-dense foods than those who sleep in.

These individuals also have more time to be active and burn calories between morning and lunchtime, making the case for a second breakfast even stronger. Fueling up with a light snack before hitting the gym, pool or pavement, then refueling once you settle into your daily routine is almost necessary when burning several hundred calories before daybreak.


READ MORE > 4 SIGNS YOU’RE EATING TOO LITTLE WHEN TRYING TO LOSE WEIGHT


Intrigued? Here are some tips on how to take on this practice: Consider the idea of both first and second breakfasts more snack than meal. That pastry, Pop Tart, stack of pancakes or bowl of sugary cereal aren’t doing your brain or body any favors. Keep the morning meals small, simple and nutrient-dense, high in protein, healthy fats and fiber.

For your “first” breakfast, consider half a piece of whole-grain toast with nut butter or a few bites of protein-packed cottage cheese. Or try one of these recipes that can be prepped in advance: energy-dense quinoa bites or pistachio bites. They’re a perfect pre-workout energy boost that won’t weigh you down while you’re exercising and will tide you over during your morning commute.

Then go for something with a bit more staying power to keep you fueled until lunch for the “second” mid-morning breakfast. Try one of these simple make-ahead breakfasts with less than 300 calories, or one of these quick-and-easy options for people on the go.

As far as timing, try to space your first and second breakfast (or mini meals) 2–3 hours apart. If you rise at 5 or 6 a.m., have your first bite within 15 minutes of waking. Then aim to get the second, slightly more substantial breakfast in around 9, which should keep you fueled until lunch.

Don’t overthink or over complicate it. Make your morning mini meals simple, packed with lean protein, fiber and healthy fats. By keeping them small and spacing them a few hours apart, you’ll keep your energy levels elevated and maintain stable blood sugar levels. By planning ahead, you’ll not only be less likely to turn to junk foods at breakfast and lunch, but you’ll be better able to focus and concentrate, which has benefits far beyond breakfast.

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7 Ways to Burn Calories Through Water Sports

Summer’s here and that means backyard barbecues, trips to the beach and frozen treats. Fortunately, there are plenty of fun summer activities that can help you burn off that popsicle. Next time you hit the coast or your closest lake or river, try one of these water sports to burn some serious calories instead of lounging in the sand.

*Calorie burn based on 150-pound person doing 1 hour of activity.

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Zucchini-Hummus Chicken Wrap | Recipe

Zucchini Hummus Chicken Wraps

This hassle-free wrap makes healthy eating easy. Simply slather a heap of hummus onto a big whole-wheat tortilla, and pile on the fresh ingredients! These keep well in the fridge, so you can make them in advance for on-the-go lunches, or cut them in half for party appetizers.

Zucchini-Hummus Chicken Wrap

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (5 ounces or 140 grams) shredded boneless, skinless rotisserie chicken breast
  • 1/4 cup (40 grams) crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
  • 2 medium zucchini (10 ounces or 390 grams)
  • 1/2 cup (120 grams) plain hummus
  • 4 (10-inch or 60 grams each) whole-wheat tortilla
  • 2 cups (60 grams) spinach
  • 1/4 cup (30 grams) thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/4 cup (40 grams) sliced roasted red pepper

Directions

Stir together chicken, feta, oregano and pepper in a large bowl. Set aside.

Slice ends from zucchini, and cut lengthwise into thin ribbons using vegetable peeler or mandolin.

Spread 2 tablespoons hummus on each tortilla. Divide spinach and zucchini equally over hummus. Divide chicken mixture, onion and roasted red pepper equally among tortillas. Roll tightly; wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Nutrition Information

Serves: 4 |  Serving Size: 1 wrap

Per serving: Calories: 248; Total Fat: 8g; Saturated Fat: 3g; Monounsaturated Fat: 2g; Cholesterol: 38mg; Sodium: 556mg; Carbohydrate: 16g; Dietary Fiber: 13g; Sugar: 3g; Protein: 18g

Nutrition Bonus: Potassium: 172mg; Iron: 11%; Vitamin A: 35%; Vitamin C: 28%; Calcium: 13% 

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