3 Health Benefits of Walking Northern Michigan Beaches

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Afternoon trips to Northern Michigan beaches aren’t just for sandcastles and sunbathing. Research has proven that in addition to beautiful views, walking on the beach has several health benefits.


1. Build Muscle. 

Walking on sand requires 1.6 to 2.5 times more mechanical work according to the Journal of Experimental Biology. This means your muscles and tendons work harder.

2. Burn More Calories.

It takes 2.1 to 2.7 times more energy to walk on sand than it takes to walk on a hard surface at the same pace (Journal of Experimental Biology). More energy means more calories burned. In fact, Berkeley Wellness states walking on soft sand increases caloric expenditure by almost 50 percent.

3. Know Your Body.

Unlike a sidewalk, sand is an uneven surface. Walking on it challenges your ability to know where your feet are without looking at them. This sense of body is called proprioception. Proprioceptive exercises help to develop balance, coordination and agility.

The local public beach is bordered by private property. Can I walk along the shoreline of private property?

Yes. In the 2005 case of Glass v. Goeckel, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the public has the right to walk along the beach of a private property owner or private association of homeowners. However, walkers must stay on land below the “natural ordinary high water mark.”

The mark is defined as the point on the bank or shore up to which the presence and action of the water is so continuous as to leave a distinct mark either by erosion, destruction of terrestrial vegetation (plants that grow on or in the land rather than living in water or on rocks or trees) or other easily recognized characteristics.

The court didn’t address activities other than walking or running such as campfires, picnics, playing volleyball, etc. While it is implicit that the public cannot do these things on private property, the court didn’t specifically address them.

You can play it safe by keeping your feet in the water.


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Shape Up North is a community collaboration dedicated to helping northern Michigan residents benefit from healthy eating habits and an active lifestyle. Living a healthier lifestyle can and should be an enjoyable adventure. Small changes in habits at school, work, and home can have long-lasting, positive effects on your health. With an abundance of great local foods and a four-season playground right outside your door, you and your family can lead a healthy, fit, and fun life.

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