Body and the Beach

Body and the Beach

With so many opportunities for surf and sport along the Alabama Gulf Coast, souvenirs from your beach escape don’t have to include unwanted pounds.

Just because you’re taking a vacation doesn’t mean your exercise plan should. In fact, a well-deserved break from your daily routine is the perfect time to shake up your fitness program. And venturing out of your comfort zone to try something new may be just the ticket for revving up your sense of adventure – and your metabolism.

A visit to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach offers countless ways to keep your body toned while still enjoying the pristine shores and laid-back beach vibe. Ease into things and get a sense of the landscape with a hike along the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail that winds through Orange Beach to the sandy shores of Gulf State Park. Rollerblade along the miles of paved city trails. Or visit Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge and commune with nature while exploring its footpaths.

Think outside the box while exploring the island. Paddling a kayak through the area’s back bays and quiet waterways will calm your mind while strengthening your biceps, or contact one of the local stables for guided horseback rides. And a sunset bike ride with the family will help you bond while burning off calories from the evening meal.

If you’re staying on the beach, a workout is as close as your back door. Early risers can beat the heat with a morning jog on the wet, firmly-packed sand close to the water’s edge, or a vigorous beach walk on the soft, loose sand higher up the beach. Either option is guaranteed to get your heart pumping. Pick-up games of beach volleyball or Pro Kadima are other great ways to break a sweat.

An outdoor enthusiast’s dream, the Alabama Gulf Coast offers golfers of all ages and experience levels a chance to play championship golf from some of the area’s 10 signature courses. Not to be outdone, tennis fans can practice their serves at one of the many local resorts with tennis facilities, or visit the Orange Beach Tennis Center – a lighted facility featuring eight medium-speed hard courts and offering youth, adult and senior tennis programs. And if fishing’s your thing, welcome aboard! Home to one of the largest charter fishing fleets on the Gulf Coast, you can get your sea legs on one of the deep-sea charters leaving daily from marinas around Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.

Of course, with the clear and warm turquoise waters along the coast, swimming is an obvious choice for recreation and fitness. Not only a great cardiovascular workout, swimming tones all the major muscle groups while keeping you cool – perfect for those sultry days on the coast. So look beyond the lap pool and venture into the Gulf of Mexico for surfing, snorkeling, diving, waterskiing, and parasailing adventures. Finally, those loyal to the gym will find well-equipped sports facilities and fitness centers around the island complete with indoor pools, aqua aerobics, gymnasiums, badminton courts, yoga studios, aerobic rooms, indoor tracks, and racquetball courts.

By incorporating just over 20 minutes of moderate physical activity into each day, you’ll reap cardiovascular and muscle-building benefits while counteracting the effects of the fresh local seafood, libations, and other treats you’ll no doubt be sampling during your stay. But whether you plan to stay active or just activate your tan, keep hydrated by drinking lots of water during the heat of the day. It’s the best way to offset the effects of heat and sun that can diminish your physical performance and leave you feeling faint.

Carol Weaver knows that a little exercise goes a long way, even on vacation. Look for her walking along the beach at sunrise, soaking up the scenery while burning off last night’s dessert.

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