Learn to Move More
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Going for a Walk? Don't Forget your Fitness Tracker!
Meg Stanley | 05/10/2018
If you feel like you’re lacking motivation, a fitness tracker may be just what you need to get you back on track!
How 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 is 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!
Don't Stop Moving When it Starts Raining
Sometimes, it seems like there aren’t enough activities in the world to keep everyone active and entertained, so use these tips...
Getting everyone into the car to go to the park just isn’t possible, especially when it's raining. It can be tempting to sit on the couch and watch TV or stare at a phone. Here’s a list of things you and your children can do to stay sane inside!
- Scavenger Hunt – Draw a map or write clues to lead kids from one room to another. Include as many clues and rooms as possible for maximum moving! We wrote a few to get you started.
- Hallway Bowling – Use full or recycled water bottles to set up bowling pins at the end of a hallway. Stand at the opposite end and bowl down the hall. Kids can get bonus points for including a silly dance move while bowling!
- Dance Party – This one speaks for itself. Get everyone moving with a catchy playlist. You can play freeze dance, pausing the music every so often and having everyone freeze in place, or choose a song and choreograph a dance, practicing until the routine is perfect!
- Hot Lava – An old favorite. The floor is hot lava! Pick beginning and end points in the house, then move from start to finish without touching the floor. Hop between pillows, couches, paper and anything else on the floor that will help you get there. Get creative and be careful!
- Obstacle Course – Why sit in a pillow fort when you can climb over one? Set up an obstacle course using couch cushions, blankets, pillows, and anything else you can think of. Have obstacle course building contests and races!
- Yoga – If you’d rather some gentler exercise, or need a way to wind down after a more rambunctious game, free yoga routines can be found all over the Internet. Some sites even have videos geared toward children. Grab yoga mats or towels and get going!
- Cards – Play your favorite card game, with a twist. Each number in the deck is paired with a dance or exercise move. When you play an ace, jump as high as you can! When you put down a five, do a ballerina twirl! For easier to remember pairings, just match each suit with an active move. Play war, Crazy Eights, Uno, or whichever game is your child’s favorite.
Sometimes, it seems like there aren’t enough activities in the world to keep everyone active and entertained, so use these tips to stay active and healthy even if it's raining outside.
A Short Guide to Hiking
Hiking is one of the best ways to get in shape while taking advantage of beautiful weather and scenery in South Carolina.
A hike, however short or long, is one of the best ways to get in shape while taking advantage of beautiful weather and scenery in South Carolina. Slightly uneven surfaces and mild hills are enough to engage all the muscles in your legs and core and give you a cardio workout.
Getting started can be daunting, but hiking doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking. It can be a relaxing walk through the woods, or a fast paced trek from marker to marker. Whether you’re experienced or a beginner, keep these tips in mind.
- Ask your doctor first. If you have any preexisting conditions, old injuries, or if you have been inactive for a while, make sure to ask your doctor for advice on where you should start with exercise.
- Wear appropriate clothes. Cotton is not good at wicking moisture (sweat) and stays wet for a long time. Athletic and synthetic fabrics are great at wicking moisture away from skin and keeping you cool and dry. If it’s cool enough, wear pants to prevent bug bites and poison ivy exposure
- Wear comfortable shoes. It goes without saying that your feet will be doing a lot of work while you hike. Sneakers should be enough support for an easy to moderate hike, and hiking boots help on more difficult trails.
- Bring water and a small first aid kit – especially if you plan on doing a more strenuous trail. You’ll always need water during exercise, and some simple first aid supplies are never a bad idea when you’re in the woods.
- Look at the trail you plan to follow before you start. The Let’s Go! map can help you find a trail or park near you. Make sure the length is appropriate and that you’ll be able to get back to where you started. Both sctrails.net and southcarolinaparks.com have trail maps and information for you to check before you head out.
- Don’t overdo it. Start with short, daytime hikes. It’s better to get back to the parking lot feeling like a hike was too easy than to run out of energy in the woods halfway through. Start slow and short in terms of trails.
- Follow markers and stay on the trail, especially if you aren’t familiar with the area. A fun day can be easily ruined by getting lost in the forest and having to call rangers to come find you. Note the color of the markers on the map (usually in the parking lot) before starting a hike. Also note where trails intersect and markers possibly change color. Be a responsible hiker and stay on the marked paths.
- Bring a buddy or tell someone where you’re going. Even if you’re only planning to be out for a few hours, it’s a good idea to hike in a populated area, take a friend, or tell someone where you’ll be when going into the woods.
Hiking is a wonderful way to see more of your home state than ever before. Share your South Carolina trail experiences and pictures with us on the Let’s Go! Facebook page!
9 Ways to Get 10,000 Steps a Day
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'l...
By 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!
The Importance of Moving More
Use our Move More blog to stay updated on physical activity tips and trends. You'll find helpful information that you can use t...
We know that an active lifestyle makes us feel better and sleep better. It�۪s also a great opportunity to spend time with family and friends. Being outside and getting our Vitamin D just feels good! Physical activity is important for everyone regardless of age, race, income, and culture. Experts recommend 150 minutes of physical activity a week for adults and 60 minutes a day for youth.
Regular physical activity can:
- Prevent chronic diseases (heart disease, cancer, and stroke)
- Control weight
- Build strong muscles
- Reduce fat
- Promote strong bone and joint development
- Improve conditions of heart and lungs
- Build overall strength and endurance
- Improve sleep
- Decrease potential of becoming depressed
- Increase your energy and self-esteem
- Relieve stress
- Increase chances of living longer
Although it may, at times, seem difficult to find ways to be active, there are many safe and affordable options available in our own communities. You can find state parks that have trails for hiking; places to fish and kayak; community trails for biking and walking; and community parks and playgrounds. Some schools even open their outdoor facilities in the afternoon and on weekends for individuals and families.
Use our Move More blog to stay updated on physical activity tips and trends. You'll find helpful information that you can use to make simple changes to your daily routine.
Be Sweet to Your Feet
The American Heart Association | 01/17/2018
Healthy feet are happy feet, and they'll keep you moving toward your activity goals!
From blisters to heel pain, foot and lower body conditions can keep you from being active. Learn more about common causes and solutions for foot and lower body issues. Finding more comfort and ease may be just what you need to get moving.
Finding Comfort and Pain Relief To Help You Move MoreBe sweet to your feet. They support you and keep you moving whether you're on the job, having fun or rocking your favorite activity. Most Americans will log about 75,000 miles on their feet by age 50. About half of us experience pain or other foot problems at least some of the time. Our feet deserve a little TLC, so start with the basics:
- Know your feet. Check them daily, after you've been active or when you get home from work or school. Spot problems early and keep them from getting worse. Look for blisters, cuts, sores, swelling, and areas that are red, warm, tender, or rough. Check between your toes, too.
- Keep it clean. Wash your feet with soap and water every day, and dry them thoroughly. You can use powder or cornstarch between your toes if needed. Apply lotion to dry or rough spots like heels. Protect blisters and open sores with a fresh bandage. Trim toenails weekly -- straight across and not too short. Gently remove calluses and corns with a pumice stone or foot file. Wear clean socks, especially when you exercise or if you already have a foot problem.
- Handle your issues. Most adults have experienced some type of foot issue. In one 2012 survey, the most frequently reported ailments included ankle sprain, blisters, calluses, cracked skin, foot fatigue, and fungal infection (athlete's foot). Other common conditions include arch pain, bunions, corns, heel pain, ingrown toenails, other nail issues, plantar fasciitis, plantar warts, shin splints, swelling, and yes, even smelly feet! Ignoring a foot problem won't make it go away, so if it doesn't start to clear up after a few days, see a doctor. Some conditions and injuries can be serious and should be diagnosed and treated by a health professional.
An Ounce of PreventionWhen you have discomfort or pain in your feet or lower body, you won't have much motivation to get off the couch and get active. Happily, there are many ways to up your comfort factor and prevent some common sources of pain when exercising.
- Take a stand: Alternate periods of sitting, standing, and moving throughout the day. If you're on your feet a lot, put them up when you sit down to take a break. If you're more sedentary, try a standing desk or walking breaks. Experts suggest standing or walking for at least two hours per eight-hour workday, or about 15 minutes out of every hour.
- Lighten up: Stay active and maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can put extra stress on your feet, knees, and body.
- No fungus among us: Wear flip flops or water shoes in public showers, locker rooms, restrooms, pools, and other wet areas.
- Cross train: Vary your activities to avoid repetitive impact. Walk, bike, swim, run, dance, skate --- with so many fun ways to move your body, you don't have to limit yourself to just one.
- Before and after: Warm up before working out, and cool down and stretch afterward. Make sure your routine includes stretching and strengthening exercises for feet, ankles, calves, and knees.
- Insert here: Try orthotics or shoe inserts for additional support, pain relief, and comfort. They can help with some common issues like foot discomfort, lower back pain, plantar fasciitis and knee pain. Over-the-counter shoe inserts can include arch supports, insoles, heel liners or cups, and cushioning pads.
If the Shoe Fits…The right shoes can make being active a breeze, while the wrong shoes can wreak havoc on your feet. Here are some of the key considerations when buying shoes:
- Get comfy: As much as possible, wear supportive, comfortable shoes that fit well. Save those killer heels for special occasions!
- Get specific: If you participate in a certain sport or activity at least twice a week, get shoes designed for that activity and terrain or surface.
- Get fitted: Have both feet measured each time you buy shoes, and size to the larger foot. Shop at the end of the day, when your foot tends to be the biggest. Try on shoes with your usual socks and insoles or orthotics. Don't buy shoes that feel too tight, thinking they'll stretch.
What's That Smell?Nobody likes to talk about it, but let's face it, foot odor happens. When your feet sweat, the moisture creates an environment for bacteria to grow. To help keep feet fresh so you can move more with confidence:
- Choose shoes and insoles that are well-ventilated and cooling. Avoid synthetic materials that don't let your feet breathe.
- Wear clean, acrylic-blend athletic socks that wick moisture away from feet. Natural fibers can absorb and trap sweat, so they may not be the best choice for your workout.
- Don't wear the same shoes every day, and don't leave them stuffed in a workout bag or buried under sweaty clothes. Allow them to dry out thoroughly between each wearing.
- Practice good daily hygiene and nail care.
- Don't wait to take care of foot problems.
Healthy feet are happy feet, and they'll keep you moving toward your activity goals!
Must-See Passages of the Palmetto Trail
Deanna Anderson | 04/18/2017
South Carolina is lucky to have the Palmetto Trail, a cross-state trail extending roughly 350 miles from Oconee County to Charl...
Hiking is good for the body, mind, and soul and South Carolina is lucky to have the Palmetto Trail; a cross-state trail extending roughly 350 miles from Oconee County to Charleston County. The pet project of the Palmetto Conservation Foundation (PCF), it is also the only trail I know of with its own beer, the Palmetto Trail Ale.
It can be hiked as a thru-hike or day- and section-hikes between the numerous trailheads. With 26 passages ranging from 1.3 to 47 miles, there is a lot to enjoy along the Palmetto Trail, but these are my “must-see” hikes.
Peach Country Passage: 14.1 miles
In the upstate, this trail leads hikers along rural roads, where they will enjoy peach orchards in full bloom in the springtime. The trail also overlaps urban sidewalks past a local high school, and a small country store in Gramling on US Hwy 176 is a nice stop for refreshments. The uniqueness of this passage comes from Windmill Hill, which at 1184 feet above sea level is the highest point of the Palmetto Trail.
Capital City Passage: 7.5 miles
Hike this passage on any Saturday of the year. Why? Because then you’ll end up on Main St., Columbia and the Soda City Market. Soda City Market is held every Saturday from 8 am to 1 pm, rain or shine, and is a mixed venue of artists, musicians, and food vendors with a conglomeration of cultures and styles. The free samples handed out by vendors are tasty treats to weary hikers. This passage also takes hikers through the beautiful and historical USC campus and the SC State House. It is tradition to walk up the steps of the capital building and take a group photo or selfie. A quick detour on King St. brings hikers to the Palmetto Conservation Foundation office and its always smiling and friendly staff.
High Hills of Santee: 9 miles
Based in Sumter County, this passages winds through Poinsett State Park and overlaps pre-existing trails. Dubbed the “mountains of the Midlands,” this passage is in an area known as the Sandhills of Santee. This region existed as the ocean’s shoreline millions of years ago. The local limestone, known as coquina, is made of compressed shells, and the stone is utilized throughout the park in the ranger station, picnic shelters, and trail shelters. Hikers can take a dip in Old Levi Mill’s Pond, buy refreshments and souvenirs at the Ranger Station, or stay in the campgrounds. Diversity, such as Spanish Moss existing alongside of Mountain Laurel, has given this park the nickname “the mountains of the midlands.” The park also offers another twenty miles of a stacked-trail system, allowing hikers to walk as much or a little as they like.
Swamp Fox Passage: 42.2 miles
At almost 50 miles, this is the longest passage of the Palmetto Trail, but three different trailheads allow it to be hiked in sections. It travels through four distinct ecosystems in Frances Marion National Forest: swamps, grassy savannahs, pine forests, and cypress trees. The swamps are the famous as the hiding places of the Revolutionary War hero Francis “Swamp Fox” Marion, and the forest is home to the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. This remoteness and primitiveness of this passage should not be tackled by inexperienced hikers or without planning and preparation.
Awendaw Passage: 7.2 miles
A terminus of the Palmetto Trail, this passage ends or starts at the Intracoastal waterways at Buck Hall Recreation Center and will travels through a maritime forest, palmetto trees, past a canoe launch (a perfect place to stop for lunch), and a salt marsh. Often tiny blue crabs can be seen along the trail in the salt marsh. Buck Hall Recreation Center is a scenic spot to either begin or end your hike in proximity to the picnic shelters, bathrooms, and camping amenities. A one-mile marker with the Palmetto Trail name and logo deserves a mini-celebration or at least a selfie, as it signifies either you have only one mile left of the Palmetto Trail, or you’ve trekked the beginning mile and have only 349 more miles to go!
For more information or maps on these and other passages of the Palmetto Trail, visit the Palmetto Conservation website at www.palmettoconservation.org. They also offer events and guided hikes along the trail. Never set out on a trail without researching it, packing the right equipment and maps, telling someone where you are going, and familiarizing yourself with the area.
Hikers, It's Time to Challenge Yourself!
Deanna Anderson | 11/03/2016
It's time to get moving with a new outdoor challenge- hiking!
News and social media is filled with advice on how to walk more, when and where to walk, and why we should walk. So, we’re doing it. We’re hitting the fitness tracks, taking to the trails, or walking in social groups. We’re walking more than ever, so now its time to challenge ourselves!
365 Miles in 365 Days
Sound impossible? Don’t let the large numbers scare you; this amounts to only 1 mile a day. Studies show that we typically walk 3-5 miles a day cumulatively with trips to the bathroom, to the car, in the store, at home or at work. Adding one meaningful powerwalk will be easy.
It’s difficult to determine when and where this challenge began. It appears to have originally started as a running challenge, but walking or hiking could be substituted. There is no website for the challenge, just various blogs and Facebook pages, so there is no sign-up or official way to keep track of miles.
For beginners try 1 mile per day. For more of a challenge, go for a timed distance and complete all the miles in the least amount of time possible. The challenge ends 365 days from when you start, or after 365 miles—whichever comes first. Create your own blog or Facebook page to show off your success!
52 Hiking Challenge
The program started in 2014 when one woman challenged herself to hike once a week for a year. Now it is a global movement meant to “inspire and encourage individuals to step outside their comfort zone,” according to their website.
Even though it was initially designed as one hike per week, the challenge is flexible and challengers can walk neighborhoods or urban parks. The only rules are to hike or walk at least a mile and count only one hike per day. Some challengers have even completed 52 hikes in less than 52 weeks by hiking multiple times a week.
Sign-up can be done anytime, with the challenge ending 52 weeks from when you start. This is a free challenge but cool swag bearing the logo can be purchased online. Visit www.52hikechallenge.com or the 52 Hike Challenge Facebook page to register.
1000 Mile Challenge
Is 365 miles in a year not enough for you? Then try the 1000 mile challenge. This is another challenge initially geared towards runners, but hikers and walkers are also encouraged to compete as well. You can start this challenge anytime and sign-up is free. However, Premium Members get offers for cool swag and a medal for completing the challenge. The website allows you to keep track of your miles and there is a Facebook page where you can connect with other challengers. Visit www.1000milechallenge.com for more details.
Hike Like A Woman
For our female hikers out there, the blog hikelikeawoman.net offers a challenge every May, lasting only a few weeks. It is not so much about getting out and hiking but it involves things to do along the trail. Past challenges have included hiking with a friend, picking up litter, hiking in a new area, and hiking to the highest elevation in your area. Challengers post pictures of them doing the themed challenge of the week and one winner is chosen every week and given free swag. Hike Like A Woman is also on Facebook.
This challenge is hosted annually by the Palmetto Conservation Foundation (PCF) for seven weeks in the spring (usually March to April). Challengers log in their steps or miles each week and at the end of the seven weeks attend a cook-out where prizes are given to the top teams.
The PCF is an organization that promotes outdoor recreation and one of its main projects is the Palmetto Trail, a 400-plus mile cross-state trail. However, this challenge does not have to be hiked along the trail but can be miles logged anywhere. PCF membership is also not required, but encouraged. This challenge is free but membership fees do apply depending on levels. Visit www.palmettoconservation.org for details.
SC State Parks Ultimate Outsider
Hike your way to becoming an Ultimate Outsider. This program is not necessarily a walking or hiking challenge, instead it encourages people to visit all 47 South Carolina state parks. At your first park, purchase the Official Guide to South Carolina State Parks for $2 (or online for $4) and as you visit each park get its corresponding page stamped. When completed you receive a free Ultimate Outsider T-shirt, and ultimate bragging rights. This is another challenge that can be started anytime and there is no time limit. Visit www.southcarolinaparks.com for details.