Walking on Sand VS Pavement: Pros and Cons of Each

Walking is an excellent exercise for people of all ages and fitness levels. You can walk for a specific amount of time or a particular distance. If you want to walk for a long time, you must consider the suitable terrain. Are all terrains good for walking? If given a choice between walking on sand vs. pavement, what is better for us?

A Definition of Sand and Pavement

Sand is a type of soil made up of small rocks and mineral particles that have been coarsely split. The grains’ size defines sand, so the smaller the grains – the softer the sand. People living on the seaside can usually enjoy walking on sandy beaches, and sand can rarely be found as a walking surface in other areas.

Since it is usually found on beaches and can often be wet, most sand-walkers prefer to walk barefoot. It can also be challenging to remove from clothes and shoes, another reason to go barefoot.

On the other hand, pavement is very common and can be found almost anywhere in urban areas. It can be made of stones, bricks, but most commonly, it is made from asphalt and concrete. Thus, it is a very hard surface that lasts long and sustains great weight and weather conditions. Most of us walk on pavements every day, intentionally or unintentionally.

When walking on the pavement, it is essential to wear comfortable shoes, especially if you want your walking exercise to last long. Pavement can be a great walking surface for those who prefer stability and reliability or simply want to walk wherever the road takes them.

Pros and Cons of Walking on Sand

Pros of Walking on Sand

  • Walking on sand requires more energy because you’re using more muscles and tendons than when walking on a hard surface. In addition, the increased resistance that you experience when your feet get stuck in the sand strengthens all the muscles from your feet to your back.
  • It is a soft surface, and it is much gentler on your joints compared to hard surfaces.
  • Walking on sand burns more calories than walking on the pavement since it requires 2.1 to 2.7 times more energy consumption than walking on hard surfaces at the same speed.
  • It can improve your balance and stability since the surface of the sand is often uneven and wet, and our feet can easily get stuck. This is related to the concept of proprioception, our ability to sense our position in space since stepping through sand improves the ability to locate our feet without looking at them.
  • It is very relaxing since there is usually no traffic, and the sound of the waves has a very calming effect when walking on the beach.
  • Sand also acts as a natural exfoliant and peels the dead skin cells from your feet, leaving them silky smooth.

Cons of Walking on Sand

  • Sand is a very rare type of surface. Unfortunately, it can only be found seaside and in several exotic places. So, walking on sand is a rare opportunity to enjoy only when vacationing for the common city-living folk.
  • It can be a bit strenuous if you’re not used to walking barefoot, as it can put too much pressure on your muscles and tendons.
  • It requires a lot of energy and pressures the lower body muscles, so it can lead to injuries if you’re not used to it. To prevent potential injuries, you would have to extend the walking distance gradually.
  • If you decide to go barefoot, you need to beware of sharp or broken objects in the sand, like glass or plastic particles.

Pros and Cons of Walking on Pavement

Pros of Walking on Pavement

  • You can do it anywhere. Almost every street consists of pavement, so you can exercise any time you like.
  • As opposed to walking on sand, walking on harder surfaces like pavement can be gentle on your Achilles tendon.
  • The surface is most often flat, even, and very stable even when it’s wet.

Cons of Walking on Pavement

  • Pavement is a hard surface, which means it can be very stressful on your knees, ankles, and other joints.
  • Traffic can be a big issue, as it can often disrupt your exercise and make you take unnecessary breaks.
  • You can suffer from blisters and various foot injuries, so you need to invest in good-quality walking shoes to prevent them.

To Sum Up the Pros and Cons

Both types of terrain offer notable advantages and disadvantages. We have summed up all the facts in a simple infographic below for a better overview.

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How to Decide Between Walking on Sand and Walking on Pavement

The decision will depend only on your possibilities and preferences. If you live near a beach, walking on sand and enjoying the sound of the waves might be your choice. Although, not everybody living on the seaside prefers to walk on sand since it requires more effort and stability. However, if you live in a more urban area, pavement is your walking surface no matter what you prefer. For those lucky enough to be able to choose between walking on both sand and pavement, hopefully, the facts we’ve gathered will help you make that decision and find out what suits you better.

Walk on sand if:

  • You want to strengthen your legs and back muscles and improve your balance.
  • You have gentle joints you want to protect.
  • You enjoy the sound of waves and don’t mind getting your feet wet.

Walk on pavement if:

  • You don’t mind the traffic.
  • You have a weak Achilles tendon you want to protect.
  • You prefer a stable and accessible surface.

Final Thoughts on Walking on Sand vs. Pavement

Walking is a great, low-impact way to burn calories and generally improve your health. It is the most straightforward cardio exercise, and anyone can do it successfully with the right program. We have provided you with all the differences between walking on sand vs. pavement. However, if you are still unsure which one to choose, you can try walking on both surfaces and see which one is more suitable and comfortable for your situation.

Make sure to check out all the benefits of walking to motivate you better to start your walking journey.

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