Planning a beach trip with the family? Here are some activities that can keep you physically and mentally healthy.

It doesn’t get much better than a beach day. With nothing but sun, sand and a few friends (or your family) on the schedule, you can finally relax and unwind from a long workweek. Once you’ve snagged the prime spot and have slathered on your SPF (right?), you can make the most of your time with a few healthy activities.

Play Frisbee

Any sort of physical activity at the beach — be it bodysurfing or playing a game of Ultimate Frisbee — is a good idea. Beside the calorie burn, you may even sleep better as a result. “It can be especially helpful if you are able to exercise outdoors to let your body absorb natural sunlight during the daytime hours to help with your circadian rhythm.” said Raj Dasgupta, MD, assistant professor of clinical medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and a pulmonologist at Keck Medicine of USC.

Go for a Swim

Swimming is one of the simplest — and most effective — ways to exercise. So when you’re ready to cool off, go for a dip in the ocean. Not only is it a great aerobic workout, but it’s also easier on your joints and can tone everything from your core to your glutes. Another bonus: If the water is warm, it’ll even help soothe any achy muscles.

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Read a Book

Reading offers a ton of health benefits, like sharpening your mind (think of it as brain cardio) and boosting your ability to empathize with others. And, at the beach, it can round out your experience by helping you de-stress. One study from the University of Sussex found that reading for just six minutes can reduce your stress levels by 68 percent. So whenever you decide to take a breather from swimming, try cracking open a new book.

Listen to Music

Sure, you probably listen to music all the time — while you’re cooking, on your commute or even as you work. But turning up your favorite song at the beach can offer extra benefits. A study found that listening to music for the express purpose of relaxing can reduce stress more than listening to it for any other reason. So put on your headphones and zone out to keep those stress levels at a minimum.

Go for an Easy Walk

You don’t have to be an athlete to reap exercise benefits at the beach. It can be as simple as a stroll; simply walking on sand is more intensive than on solid ground, and it forces the muscles, tendons and ligaments in your legs to work harder. It requires over double the effort to walk on sand versus a hard surface, so don’t be surprised if you need to stop for a breather (or to hydrate) mid-walk.

By Deanna Pai

If you’re in Southern California, make an appointment with one of our primary care specialists. To schedule an appointment, call (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or visit keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment.