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The beach offers far more than a just a place to chill – here's how to make the most of the sand and surf this December

Sun, surf and six packs

The beach offers far more than a just a place to chill – here’s how to make the most of the sand and surf this December

The sun is out and holiday season is upon us, which means that many of us will be making our way to the beautiful coastline of this country. Whether you’re going to the sub-tropical north coast, the wild Eastern Cape coast with endless beaches and dunes, or the white sand beaches of the ruggedly beautiful Atlantic coast, there’s one thing that these amazing locations all have in common: sun (hopefully), sand and sea. The same is true if you’re going to any of the island paradises or other southern hemisphere coastal destinations.

Gyms all around the country are generally packed in the lead up to the holiday season, with people trying to shed a few kilos or gain some muscle before they de-robe in public. While our diets will undoubtedly take some strain over this period, but exercise doesn’t have to.

The beach is not just a place to relax as you can use it to perform specific activities that will go a long way to ‘paying off’ the desserts, wine and higher calorie intake associated with the holiday season.

“The beach is not just a place to relax as you can use it to perform specific activities that will go a long way to ‘paying off’ the desserts, wine and higher calorie intake associated with the holiday season.”

So, besides carrying the cooler box, putting the umbrella up and down, and sucking in your gut as you mimic David Hasselhoff’s (in)famous Baywatch beach walk, what can a beach holiday offer in terms of cardiovascular exercise, calorie burning and body-sculpting resistance training?

Beach running, surf swimming, beach volleyball, beach soccer, touch rugby and beach cricket: all of these activities have the potential to burn some serious calories, but can also deliver a knock-out blow to your body if you’re unprepared.

Then, of course, there are the regulars; the less intense but equally fun activities that have been passed down through the generations – playing Frisbee, flying kites and an array of bat and ball games.

Playing these ball sports or partaking in the other fun activities mentioned rely on a certain amount of ball skill, and a willingness to fall, laugh and get sand in places you may not have planned. However, even so, they all involve some degree of the two main activities (beach running and surf swimming). In this feature we’ll look at some of the fundamentals: what you can expect to experience and how to dominate them.

But first, always wear sunscreen. The risk of skin damage and eventual cancer from the sun’s harmful UV rays can be mitigated with a proactive approach. So do what you can to minimise its harmful effects.

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