When the weather is heating up around Boston, nothing can feel better than visiting the beach for the day with the kiddos. Whether you’re heading down to the Cape, or up the coast to Salisbury, today I’d like to share some tips for healthier beach days!
When you’re at the beach having fun, you may forget to drink enough water. But all that time playing in the sun and sweating can put you at risk for dehydration. Pack several water bottles in a cooler for your beach day, or freeze them beforehand to keep them cool throughout the day. And keep in mind children are more sensitive to fluid fluctuations and heat than adults, so it’s especially important that your children have some water bottles of their own.
Plopping down in a chair for 7 hours in the sun may be relaxing, but how about using part of that time to stay active? A few ideas:
- Grab your family members and friends for a game of beach volleyball. Some beaches have nets set up, or you can bring your own.
- Toss the Frisbee around with the kids, or kick a soccer ball with them.
- Get out in the water and swim! Challenge yourself to swim parallel to the shore for a certain distance or until you reach a certain landmark. If you struggle with swimming, stay in an area that’s close enough so you can stand if you need to.
- Go for a short beach run. Running on sand is much more challenging than running on the road, since it gives somewhat and requires more work (especially in your calves) to keep your stride. Somewhat wet, packed sand is usually easier than deep dry sand. Or, grab the whole family for a nice walk along the beach together.
- Ride your bikes with the kids to the beach, or bring them with you and ride along the paths, boardwalks, or trials that often surround bodies of water.
Bring healthy lunches
Beach-side restaurants typically don’t have the healthiest choices. Usually the menus contain items like burgers, hot dogs, fish and chips, French fries, and ice cream. Rather than end up hungry and paying for these items, pack your own healthy items for your beach day. Sandwiches on whole wheat bread; veggies, pita bread, and hummus; or a cold whole wheat pasta salad with lots of vegetables and an oil based dressing would make good options to pack in a cooler. And do use a cooler – food can easily reach hot temperatures if they’re just sitting in the sun, leading to growth of unhealthy bacteria that can cause foodborne illness.
Slather on the sunscreen
Did you know the amount of sunscreen needed to correctly protect your body from UV rays is about the size of a shot glass? Remember to apply sunscreen before heading out to the beach, and reapply often. Don’t miss commonly forgotten like your ears and neck. Also, keep in mind that waterproof sunscreen doesn’t mean that it lasts all day in the water or with sweat – it should have a time frame listed on the package.
Abide by beach closings
If you ever see warnings that the beach is closed, follow the rules. There are two possible reasons that typically close a beach: dangerous water conditions and high bacterial counts in the water. In dangerous water conditions, the undercurrent may be strong and unsafe for people to swim in. You may not feel this until you hit a certain spot in the water, and then it becomes extremely difficult to swim against. If you or your child are ever caught in this situation, swim parallel to shore – not against the current – until it dies out and you can then turn make it back to shore.
The more common reason for beach closings is due to high bacteria levels in the water. This often occurs after storms, when storm drain runoff contaminates the water in lakes or oceans. Swimming in this type of water can give you gastrointestinal and respiratory infections. Check the warnings for your local beach before you head out, and avoid swimming if the bacterial counts are too high.
Enjoy your beach days, and stay healthy!