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Learn to Move More

Looking for ways to be more active in SC? Move More is the blog resource you need to get active and learn about all the current ways to move more for better health! Know what you're looking for? Try the search term box to find if there are any blogs on specific topics to assist you in moving more. 

  • Johnsonville High School: A Community Place Johnsonville High School: A Community Place Angela Rogers | 05/09/2016 New upgrades to Johnsonville High make it a center for wellness.

    johnsonvilleJohnsonville High School, “Home of the Golden Flashes,” is located in Johnsonville, SC. In 2000, the tennis courts were built and the track was resurfaced by the school district in conjunction with Florence County. The superintendent at that time (Dr. Dale Strickland) initiated the request of the County to share the costs.

    The tennis courts and track are not directly on the high school campus but are within a half mile between the elementary school and the high school. Both outdoor recreational facilities are available for public use virtually 24/7. Both have lights, but the lights on the tennis courts are on an automatic timer and go off around 9:00 pm. The track is a quarter mile paved circle with markings for lanes and distances. No bikes and skateboards are allowed on the track or tennis courts.

    Community members use the track all during the day; school staff use the track as well. Seniors in the community can be seen walking and socializing on the track throughout the day. As for the courts, individuals do enjoy the courts for a game of tennis.

    These outdoor facilities give the community somewhere to go. Many use the facilities for health or rehabilitation purposes. The track is an even surface, so it is a good place to walk. Allowing public use of these facilities has a positive impact on the health of the community. Principal Sam Tuten shared, “This is a community place. I have to commend the community for taking care of the facilities.” The school does its part by keeping the facilities safe and providing lighting.

    Staying true to its Alma Mater, “In the East of Florence County, ‘neath the sky so blue, stands our noble Alma Mater, glorious to view. Lift the chorus, speed it onward, may it never fail; Hail to thee our Alma Mater, Johnsonville all hail.”

    The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is encouraging schools and districts to expand open community use statewide. Healthy Eating/Active Living coordinators from DHEC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity are providing assistance and guidance in an effort to convince schools across South Carolina to make their outdoor facilities available for public use to promote physical activity, healthy lifestyles, and stronger communities.

  • Why You Should Add Walking to Your Workout Why You Should Add Walking to Your Workout 05/05/2016 All of us take the act of walking for granted. Why? Because we don’t realize the amazing benefits of it and because we do...

    iStock_000039926250_400All of us take the act of walking for granted. Why? Because we don’t realize the amazing benefits of it and because we don’t take advantage of how easy it is to add extra steps to our daily lives. In fact, walking is one of the most versatile forms of exercise that anyone (children, adults, elderly) can do, and you can make it as easy or as challenging as you’d like. And the best thing about walking is that you can do it literally anywhere – and I mean ANYWHERE (on land, in the water, on a boat, a plane, a train, traveling, the list can go on and on).

    There are many benefits to why you should add walking your daily or weekly workout routine, so here is a small sampling of the many advantages to adding extra steps to your day:

    • Improves heart health
    • Engages whole body muscles
    • Improves blood pressure
    • Improves balance
    • Can do it anywhere – no gym required
    • Exercise clothes aren’t needed – just good walking shoes
    • It can help reduce stress

    However, some of you may be thinking, ‘I really don’t have to time to add anything else to my already busy schedule.’ Again, that’s the wonderful thing about walking. You can easily add extra steps throughout your normal day to reap the many benefits of a simple walking routine.

    Consider that about 10 minutes equals about 1,200 steps and that 1 mile is equal to about an average of 2,000 steps (more or less depending on the length of the person’s stride). It may surprise you that many people, including you, are already averaging about 4-5,000 steps per day. So, if taking time to ‘go for a walk ‘is the problem, here are five easy ways you can add more steps to your day simply by adjusting your usual routine.

    1. Park far away when going shopping or to work. Do something good for your body and let someone else have that front space. This is a very easy habit to create.
    2. Walk when you’re on the phone. Take your personal call outside or in the hallway and walk. Not only will this benefit you, but other people will appreciate not having to hear your conversation.
    3. Move when you’re at the office. Avoid the email, instant messenger or phone, and walk to someone’s office if you have a question or need help.
    4. Take the stairs any chance you can. Learn where the staircases are located at your office, dorm, school, shopping center or parking garage. This is a very easy way to get your heart pumping, burn some calories and move your body.
    5. Make family time, walking time. What a better way to reconnect than to take a walk after dinner with the family or after breakfast on the weekends. Another easy way is to plan vacations that include walking activities.

    Finally, if you need a little extra motivation to increase your walking activity level, here are a few local areas to walk in the beautiful Charleston Lowcountry. These places are perfect to take a short walking break alone or to enjoy with the family or friends on a weekend day trip. If you live out of the Lowcountry, visit the Let’s Go! map for great walking resources in your area.

    Now are you convinced that you should add walking to your workout routine? How about just adding a few extra steps to your day? Challenge yourself to consider one of the ways you can add extra steps to your day and do it for one week. Let us know how you felt afterwards.

    Walking is easy, can be done throughout your day and the best part – it’s free and because of that, it might even take you to unexplored places you’ve been wishing to visit.

  • Doby's Mill Fitness Trail and physical activity Doby's Mill Fitness Trail and physical activity 05/05/2016 Doby’s Mill Elementary, located in Lugoff, SC believes their students should develop healthy lifestyles by participating ...

    dobys_millDoby’s Mill Elementary, located in Lugoff, SC believes their students should develop healthy lifestyles by participating in physical fitness and health education activities. This is evident through activities such as the school’s annual “Race to Read” event as well as their “Jump Rope for Heart” fundraiser for the American Heart Association. In addition, the Doby’s Mill Fitness Trail provides the opportunity for students, families and community members to participate in physical activity outside of school hours. The fitness trail was paved in 2013 as a result of efforts by the school’s Parent Teacher Association. The local Eat Smart, Move More Chapter also played a role in creating signage and garnering publicity for the trail.

    Doby’s Mill Fitness Trail is open to the community every day from dawn until dusk. During school hours, the school asks that visitors check in at the front office if they wish to use the trail. Mileage markers indicate that a mile can be completed by taking three laps around the trail. The paved trail offers a few additional features including fitness stations with instructions and equipment for activities such as pull-ups or stretching. The fitness trail is promoted through the school newsletter and staff meetings, as well as the school’s annual health and fitness fair. In addition, because the trail is used for class activities, students often share information about the trail with their families.

    According to Assistant Principal John Folger, the trail is used daily by students, staff, parents and older adults. He believes the fitness trail provides a great opportunity for students and parents to walk together after school and helps to promote a healthy lifestyle to families. Another major benefit of the fitness trail is the way it has been able to contribute to the school’s positive relationship with the community.

    One of the greatest benefits of the trail is its availability as a safe place for physical activity. Because the school is located along a busy 55 MPH road, the opportunity to exercise without concerns about traffic is a valuable one. According to Doby’s Mill parent Desiree Crocker, the trail is one of only a couple places to run in the area other than the side of the road. She uses the trail frequently for running as well as walks with her family. Doby’s Mill Fitness Trail has “impacted [her] health greatly” by providing a safe place to exercise when trying to lose weight after her pregnancy. Because of stories like this, Doby’s Mill Elementary hopes to continue to promote the fitness trail as an opportunity for its community to get physical activity and develop healthy lifestyles.

    The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is encouraging schools and districts to expand open community use statewide. Healthy Eating/Active Living coordinators from DHEC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity are providing assistance and guidance in an effort to convince schools across South Carolina to make their outdoor facilities available for public use to promote physical activity, healthy lifestyles, and stronger communities.

  • How to choose the best running shoes How to choose the best running shoes 05/04/2016 A pair of running shoes can make or break a run. It’s truly the most essential piece of gear for any runner. A good pair ...

    AdobeStock_94808531-400A pair of running shoes can make or break a run. It’s truly the most essential piece of gear for any runner. A good pair of running shoes will support your feet, providing the protection and comfort required, as well as will ensure a good grip on your running surface.

    There is a wide variety of types and styles of running shoes available these days, innumerable technologies used and a large list of dedicated running companies producing the best possible. That in combination with specialized socks and personalized orthotics can make any runner comfortable and confident on the road.

    “Money can’t buy happiness” – they say. But they can buy running shoes…

    So, how to choose the right pair for you?

    The Fit

    Running is an intense full body exercise and comfort should be your primary focus. Ask your foot size to be measured in the store and try at least a few different pairs of shoes of ideally different brands and sizes. You should be able to wiggle your toes in the toe box, but your heel should feel snug to not allow unnecessary movement. It is generally a good idea to get running shoes that are half a size larger than your street shoes, as your feet swell during exercise.

    Try walking, running and maybe even jumping in the pair you are trying on. How does it feel? Does the shoe feel comfortable and the movement effortless? Not too loose or tight? Do not expect the shoe to fit better later; it has to fit perfectly on the point of purchase.

    Do not use an old pair of running shoes, you have had for years. Worn out running shoes are the primary cause of injury and discomfort. Respect your hard working feet with the fresh equipment they deserve.

    The Type

    Visit your local running store, and if possible, get your running style analyzed based on the type of your foot and the biomechanics of your stride. Specialized running stores usually employ people with a lot of experience and knowledge in running gear, and they would be able to help you pick the right shoe for you.

    If you have flat feet, you likely over-pronate (exaggerated inwards ankle roll) while running, while if you have high arches, you might be supinating (decreased inwards ankle roll). It is important to note, however that the opposite is possible too. If you pronate your feet outside the ideal range, the so called motion control shoes could serve you well. Special technologies used will support your feet better and will provide you with a more comfortable fit, also preventing you from getting injured. People with normal pronation are generally okay using any type and can use neutral running shoes.

    The feel

    Do you want your shoes to be more lightweight and minimalist for you to feel the road better or do you prefer a more traditional shoe with more cushioning? Depending on your running experience, environment and personal preference choose something that fits you best.

    Depending on the level of cushioning and the heel-to-toe height difference, running shoes are categorized into minimalist, low-profile, traditional and maximalist. Traditional running shoes are most regularly used shoes, providing more cushioning in the heel, and are most commonly chosen by novice runners.

    Regardless of the amount of cushioning, lightweight footwear will give you more joy and comfort running.

    Where will you be running?

    Depending on where you will be running, you should choose the running shoe with the best outsole for the job. If you will be on trails or in snowy and wet conditions, trail running shoes will be a good match for you, as they are designed with a larger and deeper tread for increased traction and thicker soles for higher feet protection.

    If you are a rain and winter running warrior, waterproof Gore-Tex running shoes are the right choice for you. Be sure not to have those running shoes too tight for thicker wool socks for cold weather running.


    If you are planning to spend a lot of time in your running shoes, possibly doing some recreational activities in summer or even doing some hiking, you want your shoes to be breathable for your feet to feel dry and comfortable.

    So in short, the best advice would be to try a few different types of shoes and pick, what works best for your feet and your running style. Sense of comfort is actually a really good measure of the shoe fit, so do not forget to listen to your feet.

  • Part 2: Becoming a Walkable Community Part 2: Becoming a Walkable Community Jean Crowther | 05/04/2016 Part 1 of this topic discussed the meaning of walkability and why it matters. However, even for communities where citizens and ...

    AdobeStock_82195281-450Part 1 of this topic discussed the meaning of walkability and why it matters. However, even for communities where citizens and elected officials rally behind the value of walkability and are ready to make improvements, it can be difficult to know where to start. Here is a quick and easy guide to the first steps a community should consider:

    • Identify partners: Begin by bringing together the local partners who have a vested interest in creating a more walkable community, whether that is local government staff, an Eat Smart Move More chapter, an informal walking or running group, neighborhood associations, or senior citizens groups. This should also include potential partners in planning and funding, such as the regional Council of Governments, Metropolitan Planning Organization, SCDOT, and local foundations.
    • Create a comprehensive pedestrian master plan: The plan should include an assessment of pedestrian needs, recommendations for new or improved pedestrian infrastructure, policies, and programs, and action steps for seeking funding and implementing recommended projects. Once complete, the Plan should be adopted by the local council and the community should identify a municipal department or local advocacy group that will spearhead moving it forward.

    If a community already has a plan but is not sure how to prioritize its recommendations, or if a community does not have a plan, but does not quite have the capacity to develop one, here are some strategies for finding some catalyst projects that will build momentum for change:

    • Calm the traffic: There are a number of low-cost, easy-to-implement strategies that can have a big impact on the safety and practicality of walking, without requiring large capital projects. Look for opportunities to calm traffic on streets that are already known as walking routes but are not ideal in terms of pedestrian safety and comfort. Traffic calming can be an effective tool for prioritizing pedestrians over cars on neighborhoods streets.
    • Activate the street: Rather than calming the traffic on busier streets, consider ramping up the pedestrian amenities on lower-volume streets or streets already safe and comfortable for pedestrians. The focus is creating a space that is inviting, interesting, and fun for pedestrians whether through wayfinding signage, creating parklets, installing outdoor art, allowing outdoor café seating, or hosting temporary ‘open streets’ events to encourage play.
    • Close the gaps: The best way to leverage existing investments is to close the gaps in the existing walking network. The most obvious approach is to identify blocks where sidewalk is missing and could connect two existing sections. But closing the gap can also include: improving the crossing at an difficult intersection between to sections of sidewalks; signing a route to show pedestrians the best way to connect from one trail to another; or identifying bridges (whether creek crossings, overpasses, underpasses, or another form) where no safe pedestrian access is provide and prioritizing improvements to that gap.
    • Take the long view: Consider focusing on policy changes as a first step, knowing that it will take time to see its impact. Choosing to walk for transportation is inextricably linked to land use planning, which is governed by local policies. If residential areas are planned miles away from institutional and commercial destinations (such as schools, restaurants or grocery stores) or are developed without connections to the destinations that are nearby, citizens will never have a chance to choose walking. Local and County policies can directly impact this; and though it takes time, policy change can be one of the most efficient, and sustainable approaches to transforming a community.
  • Part 1: The Importance of Walkable Communities Part 1: The Importance of Walkable Communities Jean Crowther | 04/26/2016 What is walkability? The most basic definition is simply, “the ability to walk.” However, true walkability is so mu...

    AdobeStock_70252507-450What is walkability? The most basic definition is simply, “the ability to walk.” However, true walkability is so much more than that. It can affect everyday decisions and quality of life in ways you may not even realize.

    Last week my husband realized that he often opts not to walk to work because of time, but when considered in the larger context of his schedule, it is actually his most efficient commute choice. For him, walking requires a 25 minute walk at a relatively fast pace. When he drives, the total trip from our driveway to the office door, takes about 15 minutes (parking and traffic included, which many people forget to factor in their estimate of travel time). This means that on the days he walks to work, he spends 50 minutes on his roundtrip commute and gets 50 minutes of moderately vigorous physical activity. Compared to a 30 minute round trip commute with zero physical activity, he has added 20 minutes to his trip but gained 50 minutes of exercise. That’s a pretty good deal!

    So if you consider exercise an important part of the week – and particularly if you have a hard time finding the time to exercise like we do – you can easily see the value of walkability, whether it applies to the trip to work, or choosing to walk to the bank, library, school, or park.

    But everyday decisions like my husband’s only exist in communities where walking is possible and practical. Communities with optimal walkability embody three main principles: physical access, places to go, and proximity to home.

    1. Physical access is the cornerstone of walkability. In a walkable community, people must have a safe means of traveling somewhere. This means that there must be a physical path marking the entire route where pedestrians are allowed. Without accessible sidewalks and trails, pedestrians are unable to safely walk anywhere.
    1. Physical access may provide a means of getting around, but in order for a community to be truly walkable, there must be an end to that means. Sidewalks with no points of destination aren’t very effective. Instead, trails, paths, and sidewalks should connect residents’ homes with their workplaces, schools, stores, transit stops, culture, and restaurants.
    1. Proximity to home is another key component of walkability. A general rule of thumb is that desirable destinations should be within a half mile of homes for a community to be considered walkable–that’s about a 10-minute walk.

    With each of these variables defined, it’s also important to ask why walkability is so important. Our bodies weren’t designed to sit all day. In fact, long periods of sitting have been linked to problems with our muscles, bones, and even brain function. In a culture where work often consumes our lives, it’s no surprise that one of the most common excuses for avoiding exercise is, “I don’t have time.” We wake up, get ready, drive to work, drive home, and then take care of our children. Where does exercise fit into our responsibilities?

    According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Driver Safety, American drivers spend an average of 46 minutes driving each day. Imagine living in a community where you are able to walk to work, school, and other activities. Instead of carving out extra time reserved for exercise, walkable communities allow us to incorporate physical activity into routine parts of our day that already exist. It’s no surprise that walkable communities have a lower incidence of obesity and diabetes.

    Consider the benefits of walkable communities. Do you think walking is important? Are you interested in making your community more accessible and focusing on walking as a priority? Stay tuned for part 2 of this post where we will share ideas for improving walkability in your community. And in the meantime, check the Health + Planning Toolkit developed by Eat Smart, Move More South Carolina and its partners, to learn how you can help facilitate healthy change where you live.

  • Opening School Grounds for Community Use Opening School Grounds for Community Use 04/11/2016 There are many reasons to be physically active. We may engage in physical activity to improve our health, to connect with frien...

    barnwell19signThere are many reasons to be physically active. We may engage in physical activity to improve our health, to connect with friends, to relieve stress or to have fun. In order to be active, South Carolinians need safe, affordable and convenient spaces and places to be active.

    Local schools have a variety of outdoor recreational facilities—playgrounds, fields, courts and tracks—where people can engage in physical activity. Being intentional about making schools’ outdoor recreational facilities available for communities to use is an effective, affordable way to promote and support physical activity among citizens. The South Carolina School Boards Association (SCSBA) and the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is in full support of schools and school districts allowing the community free access to schools outdoor recreational facilities.

    SCSBA is encouraging all school districts to adopt the open community use model policy to provide free access to the schools’ outdoor recreational facilities. Dr. Tiffany Richardson, the Director of Policy and Legal Services at SCSBA explains, “In some communities, schools are often the only place to find safe and affordable recreation spaces.”

    This year, DHEC will be reaching out to schools, school districts and communities to encourage the adoption, implementation and promotion of open community use.

    DHEC and Eat Smart Move More South Carolina have developed an open community use playbook, Breaking Physical Activity Barriers Through Open Community Use. The playbook provides guidance to school administrators, teachers and community members interested in adopting and implementing the strategy to increase physical activity. To better understand the current status of open community use, DHEC assessed and published The Status of Open Community Use in South Carolina 2015.

    We hope to create communities where being physically active is not only easier but also safe and fun. In years to come, we hope to see more school districts embrace the SCSBA’s open community use model policy and more schools practicing and promoting open community use.

    You can find schools in your area that are open for community use at www.letsgosc.org! If your school isn’t listed, contact the principal to find out if open community use is allowed.

  • 9 Ways to Get 10,000 Steps a Day 9 Ways to Get 10,000 Steps a Day 04/08/2016 By now you’ve probably heard the latest research. Sitting is even worse for our health (and fitness) than we thought. And...

    AdobeStock_60151051-400By now you’ve probably heard the latest research. Sitting is even worse for our health (and fitness) than we thought. And even if you do exercise regularly, you still face health risks if you are sedentary for the rest of your day (you know, the other 23 hours you’re not working out in the gym). On top of these facts, some researchers argue that when it comes to weight loss or weight management, it’s not even necessarily the people who “exercise” the most who come out on top: it’s the people who are simply more “active” (think on their feet) that tend to be the leanest.

    The truth is: If you’re not moving, you’re losing out on major health and weight-management boosters. No matter what your fitness level, setting a goal to move more can be a motivating way to improve your health. But just how do you accumulate 10,000 steps (roughly 5 miles) in a day?

    We’ve all heard the advice to park further away, walk to the furthest restroom in the office, or to take the stairs whenever possible. And these small bits DO add up. But if you’re looking for some realistic ways to make a big difference, I’ve got you covered. Here are some ways of breaking up that lofty goal throughout the day into manageable chunks that will get you up and active for a healthier body.

    Smart Ways to Get 10,000 Steps a Day

    Try This Trifecta. Consider breaking your step goal into three smaller goals throughout the day: a morning walk, a midday walk, and an evening walk. Make one a 3-mile power walking workout (in whichever slot you have the most time), and then squeeze in a 20-minute walk (roughly 1 mile) at lunch and after dinner.

    Every Hour on the Hour. If you were to split up these steps during a normal workday (8-9 hours), that works out to just over 1,000 steps per hour. That means about a half mile walk (less than 10 minutes of time), spread out across the day. It won’t be realistic for everyone to do this at work, but it may be realistic for some people to take a few 10-minute breaks during the workday—then squeeze the remaining 10-minute walks in before or after work. If you split up your steps throughout your regular waking (instead of just working) hours, that makes it even easier. Set a timer on your phone or computer and walk just 5 minutes every hour of the day until bedtime. DONE!

    Power Hour. Challenge yourself each day to accumulate as many steps as possible during one hour of the day. This can be part of your daily workout (wear your tracker while you ride the exercise bike, use the treadmill or run). Continue working harder over time so that you can cover more ground in the same amount of time!

    6 Legs in One. The easiest way for me to accumulate steps in a given day is to walk my dog. She’s the best fitness partner around! We have a daily routine of walking in the morning and the evening—yes, on top of exercising or, some days, as my exercise for the day. Splitting up your walks into roughly two 2.5-mile sets is good for both of you. This is also a healthy routine that the whole family can enjoy together! No dog? Volunteer at your local shelter.

    Wear an Activity Tracker. I am a huge advocate for wearable fitness devices (like the Spark Activity Tracker) that track your steps and overall activity each day. This small reminder will encourage you to get up more, take longer route, use the stairs—and then some. As someone who was already exercising (even running!) regularly, I was shocked to find out after wearing my own tracker that I didn’t come anywhere near 10,000 steps per day—not even on the days I worked out! Now I wear one every day. And it makes me want to get on my feet in every little way that I can to hit that daily goal. It’s an amazing motivator! (Learn more about the Spark and see what a good little walker Ginger is in the video below!)

    Buddy Up. Since I broke my foot last summer, I’ve been really limited in the types of exercise I can do while it continues to heal. Still unable to run, what I can do is walk. Walking alone became really boring for me after so many months, so I started calling up friends to walk with me. I know this is the advice you hear all the time—that exercising with a buddy is more fun and will keep you accountable. And now that I’ve done it, it holds so true. My friends and I walk together as social time (beats sitting over coffee or wine for an hour or more) to chat and catch up. And when we are walking, we don’t even notice the time or the distance—we just go and go. I get more steps and accumulate more distance with friends than I ever would on my own.

    Be Inefficient. We are all so busy that it makes sense to multitask, combining several errands in a single trip, ordering takeout from the computer we’re already sitting in front of, or carrying that armload of clothes + toys + shoes + toilet paper upstairs in a single trip. While technology has made a lot of things easier on us, what if you deliberately tried to be inefficient—any time it involved being on your feet. On days that I know I’ve been less active, I choose to be inefficient as a way to get more activity in while getting my daily chores or work done. For example, I’ll carry the laundry downstairs in three smaller trips instead of one oversized basket, or pick up and put away one item in the house at a time instead of filling my arms in an efficient way. Although it can be difficult to justify taking more time to do basic things when you’re busy, I justify it to myself by thinking of it as multitasking: I’m getting activity in at the same time as my chores.

    Be Efficient. On the flipside, are there ways you could multitask in order to get more steps in? By this I mean looking at the commonly sedentary tasks you do each day (making phone calls, sitting near your kids while they play, watching TV, reading, etc.) and deciding if there’s a way you can add walking (or other movement) to that activity. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a treadmill desk at work, but I also try to get up and walk around as often as possible when I’m talking on the phone, for example. And here at SparkPeople, when we have small one-on-one discussions with co-workers or brainstorming meetings, we’ll often head outside and walk while we talk if there’s no need to be in a formal conference room. Perhaps you, too, can watch TV while you exercise, read (or listen to) that book on the stationary bike, or get moving with your kids when they’re playing.

    Step It Up Inside. Indoor walking workout DVDs are extremely popular and allow you to get moving no matter what the weather. Some titles are specific walking distances like 3 to 5 miles. We love Leslie Sansone’s Walk Away the Pounds series as well as newcomer (and SparkPeople contributor) Jessica Smith’s motivating walking DVDs.

    As you can see, there are countless ways to reach a daily step goal. Find the tricks that work for you and keep you motivated to move and you’ll hit that daily number in no time!

  • Food as Fuel - Before, During and After Workouts Food as Fuel - Before, During and After Workouts 03/23/2016 Your body is your vehicle, so you have to keep your engine — your heart — running when you work out. That means fue...

    AdobeStock_81181093_400Your body is your vehicle, so you have to keep your engine — your heart — running when you work out.

    That means fueling up your tank with the right foods and your radiator with the right fluids, using with right amounts at the right times. The American College of Sports Medicine says, “Adequate food and fluid should be consumed before, during, and after exercise to help maintain blood glucose concentration during exercise, maximize exercise performance, and improve recovery time. Athletes should be well hydrated before exercise and drink enough fluid during and after exercise to balance fluid losses.”

    “You don’t have to adhere to a rigid schedule and there are no hard-fast rules,” said Riska Platt, M.S., R.D., a nutrition consultant for the Cardiac Rehabilitation Center at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. “But there are some things you should do before, during and after you work out.”

    Here is what Ms. Platt recommends:

    Before: Fuel Up!

    Not fueling up before you work out is like “driving a car on empty,” said Platt, an American Heart Association volunteer. You also won’t have enough energy to maximize your workout and you limit your ability to burn calories.

    Ideally, fuel up two hours before you exercise by:Hydrating with water.

    • Hydrating with water.
    • Eating healthy carbohydrates such as whole-grain cereals (with low-fat or skim milk), whole-wheat toast (without the fatty cream cheese), low-fat or fat-free yogurt, whole grain pasta, brown rice, fruits and vegetables.
    • Avoiding saturated fats and even a lot of healthy protein — because these types of fuels digest slower in your stomach and take away oxygen and energy-delivering blood from your muscles.

    If you only have 5-10 minutes before you exercise, eat a piece of fruit such as an apple or banana. “The key is to consume easily digested carbohydrates, so you don’t feel sluggish,” Platt said.

    During: Make a Pit Stop

    Whether you’re a professional athlete who trains for several hours or you have a low to moderate routine, keep your body hydrated with small, frequent sips of water.

    Platt notes that you don’t need to eat during a workout that’s an hour or less. But, for longer, high intensity vigorous workouts, she recommends eating 50-100 calories every half hour of carbohydrates such as raisins, an energy bar or banana.

    After: Refuel Your Tank

    After your workout, Ms. Platt recommends refueling with:

    • Fluids. Drink water, of course. Blend your water with 100% juice such as orange juice which provides fluids, carbohydrates.
    • Carbohydrates. You burn a lot of carbohydrates — the main fuel for your muscles — when you exercise. In the 20-60 minutes after your workout, your muscles can store carbohydrates and protein as energy and help in recovery.
    • Protein. Eat things with protein to help repair and grow your muscles. It’s important to realize that these are general guidelines. We have different digestive systems and “a lot depends on what kind of workout you’re doing,” Platt said.

    So do what works best for you. Know that what you put in your body (nutrition) is as important as you what you do with your body (exercise). Both are crucial to keeping your engine performing at its best.

  • Geocaching: Treasure hunting all over South Carolina Geocaching: Treasure hunting all over South Carolina Dr Greenhouse | 02/19/2016 I am a pediatrician. And I am addicted to geocaching. There, I’ve said it. So what is geocaching? Geocaching is treasure ...

    greenhouse400I am a pediatrician. And I am addicted to geocaching. There, I’ve said it.

    So what is geocaching? Geocaching is treasure hunting. Geocaching is spending a beautiful spring afternoon outdoors with your family. Geocaching is exploring areas right in your neighborhood or several hours away that you never knew existed. Geocaching is watching your children figure out how to cross the creek upstream and hike the trail back on the other side to find the treasure that the know is hiding there…somewhere.

    Have I got you interested yet? So what actually is geocaching? Geocaching is simply treasure hunting with a GPS-enabled device. There are thousands of geocaches registered at geocaching.com. The geocacher uses the coordinates to navigate to the correct location along with clues that help to pinpoint the location or describe the cache. A cache can be anything from a Tupperware container filled with trinkets for trade to a tiny film canister with a rolled up paper log to sign. There are geocaches in our state parks, in local parks and even in shopping center parking lots. You’ve probably walked past a geocache and not even realized it.

    Why is geocaching one of my favorite activities? Hunting for a geocache can be the focal point of a family hike on a beautiful day. My family has found geocaches in state parks all over our beautiful state and far beyond. Some are right off the trails and some require some serious effort to reach. When my children were very young, they would beg to go on a hike and hunt for a geocache. Even now, as college students, they will ask to look up geocaches and go exploring when we are on family trips.

    We have hidden travel bugs, small tags which are registered and attached to a tiny toy or stuffed animal and then passed from cache to cache by different geocachers. We get to follow the travel bugs’ adventures as it moves from town to town and state to state.

    What is my favorite geocaching experience? On a family ski trip to West Virginia, we went hunting for a geocache that seemed like it must be hidden under several feet of snow. It seemed like it would be absolutely impossible to find. Right before we were about to concede defeat and give up the very cold search, we noticed a metal drainage pipe not far from the coordinate location. Sure enough, there was a tiny microcache hidden inside the pipe. We signed the log and then headed to the ski lodge for some well-deserved hot chocolate.

    I have also hidden several caches in the Northeast Columbia area. As the “owner” of the cache, I am notified when a geocacher logs that they have found one of my caches. They can leave me a note describing their search and telling me what, if anything, they left behind. I love reading that a child found one of my caches with their parents and had a great time doing it.

    So are you ready to give geocaching a try? Check out geocaching.com. Find a geocache listing near you, head outdoors with a GPS device and explore a whole new world of treasure hunting. If you’re in Columbia, head to Sesquicentennial State Park and look for “Prescription for Parks” or any of the other caches hidden in this beautiful park. I can tell you that you’ll get some great exercise finding them. And you’ll leave the park wanting to find even more. Happy Geocaching, everyone!

  • What is Moderate and Vigorous Activity? What is Moderate and Vigorous Activity? 02/15/2016 American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week &nd...

    400American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week – or a combination of the two for adults.

    But what exactly do moderate and vigorous exercise mean and how do you know if you’re working out at the right intensity?

    There are a couple different ways to measure the level of intensity at which you are exercising and that level is based on your individual fitness level and overall health.

    The Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE)

    As defined by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, this is a way of measuring physical activity intensity level. Perceived exertion is how hard you feel like your body is working. The RPE is based on the physical sensations you experience during physical activity, including:

    • increased heart rate,
    • increased respiration or breathing rate,
    • increased sweating, and
    • muscle fatigue.

    A high correlation exists between a person’s perceived exertion rating times 10 and the actual heart rate during physical activity; so a person’s exertion rating may provide a fairly good estimate of the actual heart rate during activity (Borg, 1998). For example, if a person’s rating of perceived exertion (RPE) is 12, then 12 x 10 = 120; so the heart rate should be approximately 120 beats per minute.

    Note that this calculation is only an approximation of heart rate, and the actual heart rate can vary quite a bit depending on age and physical condition. The Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion is also the preferred method to assess intensity among those individuals who take medications that affect heart rate or pulse.


    During your workout, use the RPE Scale to assign numbers to how you feel. Self-monitoring how hard your body is working can help you adjust the intensity of the activity by speeding up or slowing down your movements.

    Through experience of monitoring how your body feels, it will become easier to know when to adjust your intensity.

    • Moderate-intensity physical activity is defined as – physical activity done on a scale relative to an individual’s personal capacity, moderate-intensity physical activity is usually 11-14 on a scale of 1 to 20.
    • Vigorous-intensity physical activity is defined as – physical activity done on a scale relative to an individual’s personal capacity, vigorous-intensity physical activity is usually 17-19 on a scale of 1 to 20.

    Examples of Moderate Intensity:

    • Walking briskly (3 miles per hour or faster, but not race-walking)
    • Water aerobics
    • Bicycling slower than 10 miles per hour
    • Tennis (doubles)
    • Ballroom dancing
    • General gardening

    Examples of Vigorous Intensity:

    • Race walking, jogging, or running
    • Swimming laps
    • Tennis (singles)
    • Aerobic dancing
    • Bicycling 10 miles per hour or faster
    • Jumping rope
    • Heavy gardening (continuous digging or hoeing)
    • Hiking uphill or with a heavy backpack

    Read more about moderate and vigorous activity on the American Heart Association’s website.

  • Trail Review: Harbison State Forest Trail Review: Harbison State Forest 02/10/2016 Harbison State Forest Trail: Firebreak Trail Length: 4.3 miles Level: Easy – Moderate Harbison State Forest is located a...

    The trail in Harbison State Forest

    Harbison State Forest

    Trail: Firebreak Trail

    Length: 4.3 miles

    Level: Easy – Moderate

    Harbison State Forest is located about 25 minutes northwest of downtown Columbia, and offers several hiking and mountain biking trails. (Use the map to find it!) The Firebreak Trail can be walked for a relaxing stroll through nature, or run for a good cardio workout! This easy-moderate trail starts right at the parking lot and brings you on a loop through the southern half of the park. It’s mostly flat, and features a gradual hill and a muddy dip in elevation around the half way point. I wouldn’t walk this trail in your favorite sneakers; the mud was hard to avoid in some places. At 2-2.5 miles in, there is a small stream that needs to be crossed with the help of some well-placed rocks. It took us about an hour to walk the whole trail at a moderate pace. It’s always smart to bring water and a friend to walk with when going into the woods, especially when trying a trail for the first time. The trail was marked well and the park wasn’t crowded, but we encountered other hikers or mountain bikers about every 15 minutes. This park is pet friendly, but dogs must be kept on leashes. I would definitely recommend this trail to a friend! 


  • How do you get your heart rate on target? How do you get your heart rate on target? 01/26/2016 When you work out, are you doing too much or not enough? There’s a simple way to know: Your target heart rate helps you h...

    AdobeStock_97024202_500When you work out, are you doing too much or not enough? There’s a simple way to know: Your target heart rate helps you hit the bull’s eye. “We don’t want people to over-exercise, and the other extreme is not getting enough exercise,” says Gerald Fletcher, M.D., a cardiologist and professor in the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Jacksonville, Fla.

    First Things First

    Before you learn how to calculate and monitor your target training heart rate, you have to know your resting heart rate. Your resting heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute while it’s at rest. You can check it in the morning after you’ve had a good night’s sleep and before you get out of bed.

    According to the National Institute of Health, the average resting heart rate:

    • for children 10 years and older, and adults (including seniors) is 60 – 100 beats per minute
    • for well-trained athletes is 40 – 60 beats per minute.

    Hittin’ the Target

    Now you’re ready to determine your target training heart rate. As you exercise, periodically:

    • Take your pulse on the inside of your wrist, on the thumb side.
    • Use the tips of your first two fingers (not your thumb) to press lightly over the blood vessels on your wrist.
    • Count your pulse for 10 seconds and multiply by 6 to find your beats per minute. You want to stay between 50 percent to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. This range is your target heart rate.

    Know Your Numbers

    This table shows estimated target heart rates for different ages. Your maximum heart rate is about 220 minus your age.

    In the age category closest to yours, read across to find your target heart rate. Heart rate during moderately intense activities is about 50-69% of your maximum heart rate, whereas heart rate during hard physical activity is about 70% to less than 90% of the maximum heart rate.

    The figures are averages, so use them as general guidelines.


    Important Note: A few high blood pressure medications lower the maximum heart rate and thus the target zone rate. If you’re taking such medicine, call your physician to find out if you need to use a lower target heart rate.

    So what’s in a number?

    If your heart rate is too high, you’re straining. So slow down. If it’s too low, and the intensity feels “light” or “moderate/brisk,” you may want to push yourself to exercise a little harder.

    During the first few weeks of working out, aim for the lower ranger of your target zone (50 percent) and gradually build up to the higher range (85 percent). After six months or more, you may be able to exercise comfortably at up to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate.

    “It’s not an absolute, but it’s a good tool to have,” says Fletcher, who is also an American Heart Association volunteer. “And if you don’t know it, remember, if you’re not able to carry on a conversation (while exercising), that may be a bit too much.”

    If you have a heart condition or you’re in cardiac rehab, talk to a healthcare professional about what exercises you can engage in, what your target heart rate should be and whether you need to be monitored during physical activity. This will also help you to choose the types of physical activity that are appropriate for your current fitness level and health goals, because some activities are safer than others.

    Learn more at www.heart.org.

  • Old Man Winter Can't Keep Us from Being Active Old Man Winter Can't Keep Us from Being Active Rebecca Parrish | 01/07/2016 As winter approaches and the weather grows colder (and holiday meals and sweets become more prevalent), I fall back on an insid...

    AdobeStock_79440479_350As winter approaches and the weather grows colder (and holiday meals and sweets become more prevalent), I fall back on an inside activity that never disappoints….roller skating. It is a family favorite; most Tuesday nights you will find my husband, son, and me at our local rink ($3 per person Family Night Special) skating circles around each other….literally. Physical activity and merriment for less than $10.00.

    Admittedly my preferred form of physical activity, roller skating combines aerobic activity and fun. It can be done outdoors or indoors. With music or without. Inline skates or traditional four wheels (also called “quad skate”). Alone or in groups. At all ages. With all levels (skill does improve with practice!).

    Historians tell us that roller skating has been around since the mid-1700’s, growing popular in America in the 1880’s. Roller skating continues to evolve as a hobby and a sport. Inline speed skating is a non-contact agility sport, and roller derby is a high-energy contact team sport. Roller hockey was featured in the 1992 summer Olympics in Barcelona. We see servers on skates at restaurants, and skating has been featured in numerous movies and even inspired Andrew Lloyd Webber to write the musical Starlight Express. Singing on skates? Count me in.

    Even recreational (moderate) roller skating offers aerobic exercise to improve cardiovascular health. It has a low impact on bones and joints, builds strength and coordination. A person can burn approximately 350-600 calories an hour, depending on size and speed of roller skating. It is hard to skate with a frown on your face. I always feel my mood lighten after an hour or two at the rink with my family.

  • Kick Off Your First Day with a Hike Deanna Anderson | 12/29/2015 There is a belief that how you spend the first twelve days of the year predicts how you'll spend the next twelve months, so let...

    There is a belief that how you spend the first twelve days of the year predicts how you'll spend the next twelve months, so let's all start the New Year off healthy and active with a hike on January 1st. Originating twenty years ago in Massachusetts at the Blue Hills Reservation, State Park 1st Day Hikes were designed to promote healthier lifestyles and bring awareness to state parks. Over the years, they've become part of a nationwide initiative led by America's State Parks to get people outdoors, according to the American Hiking Society. And, every year brings more participation with recent years seeing hikes in all fifty states. In South Carolina, with over half of our state parks participating, there is no shortage of options. Hikers can spend the New Year in the mountains of the Upstate, our capital city, the wetlands of the Low Country, or anywhere in between. Many of the parks are offering other activities too. Among them are cold water plunges (Aiken, Paris Mountain, Hunting Island, Sadler's Creek, and Devil's Fork), a 5K Race (Devil's Fork) and mountain bike rides (Poinsett, Santee). Park volunteers and staff may be discussing topics such as outdoor or nature photography, wildlife, or park amenities and history.  Hot chocolate and refreshments after the hike are also being offered at many locations. The state parks are not the only ones getting involved in 1st Day Hikes either.  The South Carolina Wildlife Federation (SCWF) will be hosting a 1st Day Hike at Camp Discovery in Blythewood. Participants will be led through meadows and woodland habitats by the Midlands Master Naturalist Association and learn about flora, fauna, and our natural heritage. Prior to the hike children will make their own trail mix and afterwards everyone will partake of deliciously warm hot chocolate. The hike is free but the SCWF does ask for a $10.00 cash or check donation. All the hikes take place on January 1st but start times, difficulty levels, and age restrictions vary and park admission fees or registration may apply, so always call ahead to the location of your choice. Hikes are designed to encourage everyone to get out and get healthy, and they typically average one to three miles with easy to moderate difficulty levels.  However, more difficult or strenuous hikes are also available such as a 7.2 mile hike at Table Rock. Wear comfortable clothing appropriate for the weather and dress in layers.  Choose durable hiking boots or tennis shoes with closed heels and toes. Also pack water, snacks, bug spray, sun screen, a small first aid kit, and a camera. For more information on hikes or activities at the state parks, visit the South Carolina State Parks website at southcarolinparks.comTo sign up for the Camp Discovery Hike, visit the South Carolina Wildlife Federation website  or contact Sara Green, SCWF Director of Education at 803-609-4778 or email Sara. To learn more about 1st Day Hikes visit the American Hiking Society or the Americas's State Park website

  • Going for a Walk? Don't Forget your Fitness Tracker! Going for a Walk? Don't Forget your Fitness Tracker! Meg Stanley | 12/17/2015 How many times have you thought … Monday is the Day! … 30 minutes of exercise? How will I fit that into my schedu...

    fitbit_500How many times have you thought … Monday is the Day! … 30 minutes of exercise? How will I fit that into my schedule between work and taking care of the kids?!

    Let’s face it: getting (or staying) in shape can seem intimidating.

    The Surgeon General’s recommended thirty minutes of exercise may seem impossible to fit into your already-busy schedule, but you don’t have to do it all at once! Instead of viewing it as one (1) half-hour deviation from your day, break the time into shorter bursts and set a goal for the entire day.

    Still can’t manage to incorporate a new fitness program into your routine? That’s okay. You are already doing something that will get you one step closer to being in shape: walking. It may not seem like a heart-pumping exercise, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s all about the number of steps you take. Ten thousand steps is a rough equivalent to the needed 30–60 minutes of movement each day.

    Luckily, we live in a world in which technology exists to help us. Fitness trackers are great tools for helping us count our steps. Most fitness trackers are bracelets or clips that measure steps taken and distance covered in a day. A simple pedometer is a great and affordable option for tracking steps.

    However, more advanced fitness trackers analyze more than just steps taken. FitBit, JawBone, Apple, and Garmin are just a few brands that make fitness trackers–there are tons to choose from. These high-tech trackers measure steps, calories in, calories out, sleep quality, and more. Some fitness trackers even have heart rate capabilities to measure calories burned through forms of exercise that don’t involve walking or running.

    So which one should you choose? Well, it depends entirely on your needs and your technological savvy. Simple is often best to keep you on target. Don’t overwhelm yourself with extra “bells and whistles” you don’t need.

    Most trackers sync with an app on your mobile device or computer and allow you to monitor your progress throughout the day. Not surprisingly, the less expensive trackers are also simpler: the FitBit Zip ($49.95) is a clip-on tracker that monitors steps, distance, calories burned and active minutes. The FitBit Surge ($199.95), however, is the ultimate fitness watch: it tracks distance, pace, heart rate, calories, sleep, and even allows you to sync your music, calls, and texts from your mobile device.

    Most trackers also have an interactive feature: you can add friends on the mobile app and challenge one another to fitness face-offs. Not into group fitness? You can also embark on individual challenges and earn badges for your healthy accomplishments.

    Before you purchase a fitness tracker, consider what you’ll be using it for. This chart from Dick’s Sporting Goods provides a helpful comparison of some of the different fitness trackers. Find one that feels comfortable on your wrist or clothing–it doesn’t matter how many fancy features a tracker has, you aren’t going to wear it if it’s constantly annoying you.

    Wearable technology is moving in the right direction. It has never been easier to set a fitness goal and actually see yourself working toward it each day. If you feel like you’re lacking motivation, a fitness tracker may be just what you need to get you back on track!

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