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STEPHANIE OAKES

Every Grain of Sand Is a Gift of Fitness-Building Traction

February 12, 2001|STEPHANIE OAKES

Question: Do I get a better workout by walking on soft sand instead of hard sand or sidewalks? --B.W.

Shadow Hills

Answer: It's definitely harder to walk on sand. Researchers have found that you use the least amount of energy when walking on firm, flat surfaces. When you stride through soft sand or uneven soil, you can increase the amount of calories you burn between 10% and 50% (depending upon your speed, distance, etc.). Why? Because you'll use more effort maintaining your balance and coordination to navigate the uneven terrain. Tracking your heart rate when you walk or run on an uneven surface is one of the best ways to tell where your exertion level is the highest, so try using a heart rate monitor during your workout to keep an accurate account.

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Stephanie Oakes is the fitness correspondent for Discovery Health Channel and a health/fitness consultant. To submit a fitness-related question, e-mail stephoakes@aol.com.

She cannot respond to every query.

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