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The premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and announcements in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Dec 14, 2021

Find Good Health on the Water’s Edge

By Lori Draz

One of the greatest blessings of life at the Jersey Shore is the shore. Spending time at the water’s edge is perhaps one of the easiest and more physically and mentally beneficial ways to spend your time. 

A simple walk on the beach is healing. The change of scenery refreshes and relaxes your mind and improves overall well-being. Time in nature can lower your blood pressure and stress hormone levels, plus the sunlight delivers essential Vitamin D. Just a 20-minute walk along the beach can boost your mood, relieve anxiety and improve self-esteem. 

The ocean provides opportunities for boundless enjoyment. From surfing, fishing, diving, sea-shelling, beach runs and beach walks, to swimming, fishing, volleyball, yoga, paddleboarding, kiteboarding, bodysurfing and kayaking, the list is endless. The ocean provides the setting and opportunities for healthful and joyful activities. 

According to DiscoverWalking.com, walking in the sand “requires greater effort than walking on a hard surface. Your muscles and tendons will work harder as your foot moves around.” Walking in sand requires 2.1 to 2.7 times more energy than walking on hard surfaces, and jogging in sand uses 1.6 times more energy. It’s also a good calorie burner. “Walking on a beach uses 20 to 50 percent more calories than walking at the same pace on a hard surface.”

Beach walking is so relaxing you may walk a lot farther than you think. Sand is a natural cushion, so you won’t be pounding your joints and feet on hard pavement. Health advocates say walking barefoot is grounding as it reconnects you to nature’s beauty and rhythms.

Stand-up paddle boarding has really taken off. According to HealthAndFitnessRevolution.com, in 2013, standup paddle boarding was the outdoor sporting activity with the most first-time participants, and its popularity has remained strong. The sport has many health benefits. It’s a low-impact exercise that improves balance and builds leg strength. It also uses just about every muscle, delivering a full-body workout. It can be a great cardio workout too, especially if you race your friends. Paddle boarding improves endurance, and because of its low impact, it is also a good exercise for those rehabilitating from injuries.

Paddle boarding’s connection to nature is also mentally and emotionally beneficial. Water naturally soothes the body and helps you find emotional clarity as your body’s center works to hold your balance.  

Surfing is another balance-driven water sport. It shares many of the core benefits of paddle boarding, although it is a much more physical sport. Learning to surf takes time, devotion and perseverance. Taking on the challenges gives you a sense of pride and accomplishment. 

Mike Gleason, professional surfer and co-owner of Tak Waterman Surf n Fish in Long Branch, stated, “The physical benefits of surfing are staying in shape and being constantly active within nature. It really helps reduce mental and emotional stress. Surfing has a way of calming you down and exciting you all at the same time. It is the best form of therapy there is for anyone who enjoys sports. The best way to get started is to sign up for lessons. There are so many great options, such as Summa Love Surf Camp in Long Branch. Then you can progress to buying a foam board, which is a great stepping stone and will help you learn proper mechanics. Also, visit your local surf shop for advice about things like surf etiquette, safety, ocean stewardship, best locations and equipment (board, wetsuit, lease, wax). And importantly, have fun!”

Many people enjoy watching the surfers out on the Atlantic. One of the biggest events of the year is Clean Ocean Action’s Surf Open, held annually in September. The event raises awareness about the impacts of pollution and the importance of clean waters and beaches while bringing together surfers, spectators and sponsors to watch all levels of surfers, from 6-year-old “groms” to professionals. 

Science backs up what many have known for decades: the ocean does make you feel good. It produces 50 to 80 percent of the air we breathe, improves mood, and the negative ions accelerate oxygen-absorbing abilities. Being outside, smelling the fresh and salty sea air, getting exercise, and enjoying the sound of the lapping waves gives you a screen-free space to reflect and meditate. This year, cherish and enjoy our shore.