Tuesday, March 20 , 2018, 10:46 am | Overcast 60º


Captain’s Log: Beachwalking for Good Health

It's the best kind of exercise and, really, you can't beat the view.

Taking a walk through the neighborhood is an enjoyable and beneficial experience, but a wildly more enchanting opportunity exists for well-being and adventure. Hey, this is a beach community and there is no better place for a walk.

Capt. David Bacon (Ramona Lisa McFadyen photo)
I puzzle over how few people I see walking along the beach. Those adventurous souls who take their exercise along the beach seem to be having the time of their lives. The sights of nature are powerfully compelling. The sounds of the waves and sea birds, the sight of shorebirds scurrying up and down the beach with the waves, children playing here and there — they all add a dimension of sensory enjoyment that you just will not find while walking through most residential or business neighborhoods.

Another added dimension is the variable level of physical exertion. Walking along the damp beach a few feet from the waves is a relatively easy stroll, yet just a few yards away — up the beach in the dry soft sand — walking becomes much more strenuous.

Damp sand is the place to walk when you have plenty time to burn and you feel like covering some distance. Shoreside scenery changes as you walk by rocky points, cliffs, parks, sports areas, beach homes and the many little magical spots that make you smile. Looking seaward, it is common to spot dolphins and porpoise swimming along or feeding in the surf zone. You might even see a gray whale outside of the kelp beds.

Dry sand is the place to go when you need to get your heart rate up quickly and maximize the strenuous aspect of your walk. A few hundred yards of walking in soft dry sand will make you a believer. I’ve suffered with knee problems periodically and I find that walking in soft dry sand cushions the impact on my knees while still giving me the exercise I need.

A fun challenge to make the experience more fulfilling is to try to name all of the shore birds and sea birds. Many will be relaxing on the beach or working the wet sand for their meal. Others will be sitting on the water just outside of the surf zone. Some will be diving below the water and surfacing repeatedly while yet others fly and dive on fish at the sea surface. During a walk of a mile or so, my guess is you will see at least a dozen species, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see that number double whenever the food chain grows active in a specific spot.

We all know — or should know — the physical health benefits of walking … increased heart rate, exercise and all the rest. Much less is written and discussed about the mental, emotional and spiritual benefits of walking. When you walk the beach instead of walking the neighborhood, you enjoy all of those benefits, plus a healthy sense of adventure. Walking our beautiful beaches can make your life richer.

Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a new nonprofit group providing seafaring opportunities for those in need.

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