Hotel & Spa in Miami Beach

The Beach Advantage

It’s beautiful, refreshing, endless fun, and one of the best ways to get your exercise. Yes, a beach vacation is the ultimate for relaxation and pleasure – and it’s a great way to get fit. According to Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa in Miami Beach Exercise Physiologist Jeff Dolgan, M.S., you automatically get added benefits with any activity you do on the beach. It’s all about the shifting sands.

For example, Jeff explains, you’ll burn more calories running the same distance on the beach versus on a paved trail. “Sand moves, creating an unstable surface,” he says. “Your muscles adjust by contracting – which is a good neurological challenge – and you wind up burning more calories and improving your balance and body awareness.”

These advantages apply to any beach activity, whether you’re walking, building the world’s best sand castle, or sprinting to catch a Frisbee. And there’s more good news: “The sand takes a lot of the impact when you jump or run, so it’s easier on your joints. And, of course, it doesn’t hurt so much if you fall.”

Canyon Ranch guests have the beach at their doorstep, and Jeff says they’re making the most of their natural outdoor gym. “Guests love our beach classes, whether it’s gentle qi gong or a sports conditioning class with calisthenics and agility drills. Our trainers can adjust to any level, so it’s a good experience for anyone.”

Jeff also points out that the setting enhances any exercise. “Just being outside in this incredible environment makes the experience more involving. Research shows that when your brain is engaged in an activity, your body gains more from it.”

And there’s the ocean, of course. If you like to swim, body surf or just play in the waves, Jeff says the benefits are endless. “The biggest thing is the reduced body weight. It allows you to do things and move in ways you might not be able to do on land. Plus, the constant motion of the water gives you the same kind of benefit you get from the sand. Even standing in the ocean for 30 minutes will burn significant calories with the effort of staying upright.”

Whether you want to give your exercise regimen a boost or are just getting started, you’ll find everything you need at the beach. If you want the perfect getaway to go along with that, join us at Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa, where you’ll enjoy the best a vacation can offer – indoors, outdoors and in the waves!


  • The foot glove – When you’re running on a public beach, wearing the popular “foot gloves” is a great way to protect your feet from glass and other debris. The toes are covered separately, so each one works individually for natural, maximum efficiency.
  • Eat & wait – Your mom was right: Don’t go in the water until an hour after eating. Your digestive system was built to push things down; in the water you don’t have enough gravity helping the process and can experience discomfort. 
  • Float– If you’re very lean or muscular, you likely have a tendency to sink, so try using a floatation belt to help you stay afloat when you exercise in a pool.
  • Check and sea – Beach conditions change often. Before a morning run, check the shoreline for anything that’s washed up overnight. Check the lifeguard station, too, for any posted warnings about tides or other concerns.
  • Keep drinking– When you’re in the water, it’s easy to get dehydrated without noticing. Aim for a liter of water every 30 minutes, taking drinks every five minutes or so; if you wait until you feel thirst, you’re already late.
  • Be sun smart– Do everything for yourself that you’d do for a child. Smear on the SPF 30 sunscreen, wear a hat and UV-protective sunglasses and look for T-shirts that include sun block. Also, be kind to your eyes and don’t gaze at the water too long.