When January comes around, the daylight seems to creep away before you’ve even had time to think about going for that après-work run. You wouldn’t have that problem in Cuba – even in January this Caribbean island bathes in over 10 hours of sunlight every day. Get your daily dose of vitamin D and exercise in one clean sweep by going for a run on one of its beautiful beaches. It’s scientifically proven that running or walking on sand requires at least 1.5 times more effort from your muscles and tendons than walking or running on a hard surface at the same speed. That means as your feet sink into the sand, you can burn up to 50% more calories – and that’s without going any further or faster. What’s not to like? Lots of our hotels are on stunning stretches of sand, perfect for testing out this theory. Try the Royalton Cayo Santa Maria – it’s set on a beach that sprawls along the coast for a lengthy 13 kilometres. Some say it’s Cuba's ultimate beach retreat.
Taking your run or walk down to the beach is great for the extra calorie burn, but it’s also far more relaxing than staring into space while pounding your feet along the belt of a treadmill, or pushing yourself through a gruelling Spinning® class. Instead of shutting the world out with your headphones, let the waves provide a natural soundtrack. And if you get a bit too hot, you can cool off in the sea. There are between three and seven thousand nerve endings in each foot, so feel the benefit of this by leaving your trainers behind, and letting the sand massage your feet. It can be a good exfoliator, too. Going barefoot on the sand is like walking along a giant pumice stone – it’s slightly abrasive, so it gets rid of dead skin and allows calluses to heal. Hello silky soles. The Sensatori Resort Jamaica is a good place to give this a shot – it’s located on Negril’s famous Seven Mile Beach.
You don’t need to let buttons and machines control your workout – vary the amount of effort you’re making by simply running on different parts of the sand. The wet sand near the water is more tightly packed, so your feet won’t sink in as much. This means you can rack up those Fitbit steps a lot easier. For a more challenging walk or run, head to the dry sand – it has a lot more give, so you’ll have to put extra effort in before you can cross the finish line. The sand acts as a natural cushioning for your feet, though, so it’s not too hard on the joints. Keen runners can analyse their gait by looking at the footsteps they leave in the sand. The deepest indentations of the print show where your foot is striking the ground – experts recommend a soft step that budges the sand as minimally as possible. Give it a go on an active holiday to Robinson Club Esquinzo Playa. The personal trainers there can tell you a thing or two about running, and the hotel overlooks a long beach.
Many believe that being tanned is synonymous with beauty. It can make us feel confident, slimmer and more attractive. And if you run on the beach, as long as you slap on plenty of sun cream before you go, you could come back from running with a safe, and healthy glow – and not just because you’ll be glistening with sweat. The sun reflects off the pale sand and the sea, so you’ll get more exposure to the sun’s rays than you would by just sunbathing next to the pool. And scientists have also found that the vitamin D you get from the sun can improve calcium absorption, as well as your mood and your autoimmune response, so you’ll look good and feel good. Why not work on your tan while running along St Pete Beach in Florida , which is often dubbed the Sun Capital of America. It enjoys a whopping 360 days of sunshine each year, and the Don Cesar Beach Hotel Resort & Spa sits right on the sand there.
No day’s the same at ROBINSON Club Esquinzo Playa, with a long list of sports, a relaxing spa and a variety of pools to switch between.
Right on Ahungalla beach, the Riu Sri Lanka has been built in a U-shape, meaning the hotel has fantastic vistas of the long stretch of sand and the Indian Ocean.
The Hideaway at Royalton St Lucia will perch on the edge of its very own private, golden-sand cove. It’s only a 15-minute cab ride from popular Reduit Beach, too.
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