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  • 5 Great Outdoor Tech Hobbies 5 Great Outdoor Tech Hobbies Eric Carrell | 08/23/2016 Get moving by taking technology outside!

    Tech HobbiesGone are the days when techie’ synced with geek’ and was defined as a person who sits in front of a computer all day and has no taste for anything going on outside. Tired of the stereotype, techies have been out to develop fun stuff that can be enjoyed outside while still maintaining their love for technology.

    And the results are amazing; fun tech activities that attract even non-techies and encourage people to explore the outdoors and be active. Here are the best five tech activities you are likely to enjoy outdoors:

    1. Pokémon Go
      Pokémon Go uses iOS and Android mobile devices to find virtual creatures (Pokémon) all over the world using GPS locations. The player can then capture, train or fight with the Pokémon. The power to catch Pokémon increases as you go up the levels and you can also join teams later on. A portable Pokémon Go plus device that can be worn on the wrist keeps you in the game even when you do not have your device at hand.

      The fun of it all is the feeling of excitement a player gets when their phone vibrates to indicate there is Pokémon nearby, and the trick of throwing a Poke Ball to capture it as it tries to escape. Also, the possibility of finding Pokémon anywhere offers the thrill of exploring the world, as Pokémon are often located at popular, local attractions, like parks, trails, museums, and more.  It’s the perfect excuse to lace up your shoes and go for a walk while still playing a video game.

      The game was released barely two months ago, but it has already caught on deeply in many parts of the world.

    2. Geocaching
      Another GPS powered hide-and-seek, Geocaching is more of a hunt for hidden treasure. This treasure can be anywhere in the world, so traveling is Geocaching’s first shot at having fun. Once you locate the cache, you retrieve or store a treasure or leave it the way you find it. You then sign off to show you were at that location.

      Geocaching is a great way to meet new people. There is absolutely no obligation to interact, though, so it works for both extroverts and introverts.

    3. GPS Mission
      This one is pretty easy. You set out on a treasure hunt on some mapped destinations, then answer questions using clues you find at your allotted destination. You compete against opponents and update your progress online, and the winner of the mission is the person who completes the mapped visits before everyone else.

      GPS mission is a great way to stay in touch, create new networks and visit new places all while sneaking in some exercise.

    4. Flying Drones
      Possibly the best outdoor activity to give you the video game feeling, flying the best drones is a sure win when it comes to outdoor fun tech stuff. It combines the virtual power of taking control of strong aircraft from a console with the real environment of the outdoors. Obstacles and damage to your craft are real in this instance, so you have to be even more attentive here.

      It offers an endless possibility of tricks you can try with your drone and is a great way to rope in players of diverse age groups, from your kids to your dad. The versatility of drones is another fun feature. If photography is your hobby, you can combine flying drones and taking creative shots and films, two birds with one drone!

    5. Electric RC Car Racing
      The Remote Controlled (RC) car is more of a pilot program as the world prepares to embrace the unmanned mode of transport. And before it becomes official, what better way to get involved than having it as a hobby!

      It gives you the chance to watch the science of vehicle movement from a distance; to execute all those moves you watch a race and predict what the driver would have done. It offers you a lesson too, as it helps you grab some driving tips that you could actually use in real life. Another excellent bonding activity, as you could just put together a team and have fun all day long!

    Technology has been widely blamed for a cropping culture of laziness, with video games taking most of the flak. Techies’ response in the recent past has however been fantastic, with most new outdoor games building on traditional forms of play to combine both physical activity and tech enthusiasm.

    Call it common ground, at last.

  • Why consistent workouts are essential for new moms Why consistent workouts are essential for new moms Albert Krav | 08/08/2016 Sticking to your workouts will elevate your mood, re-energize your body, and ensure you get back in shape faster.

    AdobeStock_113957708-400After giving birth, your body and mind may feel exhausted, but the last thing you should do is give up your time at the gym. Sticking to your workouts will elevate your mood, re-energize your body, and ensure you get back in shape faster.

    How to Squeeze in a Workout
    The first few months after your baby is born, it can be easy to neglect your own health, as you�۪ll inevitably be starved for time and sleep. However, the healthier you are, the easier it is to take care of the baby. It�۪s important to create a schedule where you can still have time for yourself. This is crucial to balancing a new lifestyle and guaranteeing that your self-value is still strongly upheld.

    See if you can work with your family, loved ones, and friends to take care of the baby a few times a week so you can exercise. In the meantime, there are many low-impact stretches and workouts you can do throughout the day. These light exercises not only help boost your energy, but give you the emotional flexibility to withstand the new changes and stresses necessary to be at your best.

    Staying active will help you regain your strength and give you some much needed personal time.

    The Heart of Your Post-Pregnancy Workout
    Cardio is a baseline necessity of any exercise regiment. Getting your heart rate up is the quickest way to shed pounds, slim your figure, and strengthen your core. Jumping jacks, heel kicks, high knees, and half-squats are all great exercises that work core muscle groups while raising the heart rate.

    The most important thing cardio does is revitalize your energy. When you get your heart pumping, you�۪re improving your cardiovascular efficiency, boosting neurotransmitters, and creating more mitochondria. All of these elements come together to raise your daily energy levels without needing coffee, energy drinks, or extra sleep. In this way, you can tend to your baby�۪s needs without feeling like you are stretched thin. Feel better naturally and ensure that you are spreading positivity and love into a new home.

    Don�۪t Make This Classic Mistake
    Many new mothers are only focused on losing weight after their pregnancies, but the biggest mistake new moms make is only working on specific muscle groups. Your intuition may tell you to do crunches and ab workouts to tighten up your postpartum belly; however, this can actually make your stomach worse. Since crunches only work the muscles underneath, to truly get your shape back, you�۪ll need to burn fat and engage in a full body workout.

    Seeking Balance
    In addition to cardio workouts, supplement your routine with various strengthening exercises like lunges, pushups, and planks. While cardio and strength training create a powerful workout regimen, some of the best exercise routines exist outside of the traditional gym setting.

    High-intensity training—whether it�۪s rock climbing, swimming, or boxing—can burn fat, amp up your energy, and be productively entertaining. For new moms, working out is about more than just returning to your previous form; it�۪s about pushing yourself into a new realm of health, so that you�۪ll be better prepared for the road ahead.

  • When is the best time of day to work out? When is the best time of day to work out? 08/02/2016 Morning, midday or midnight --- when's the best time to work out?

    AdobeStock_89537376-400Morning, midday or midnight — when's the best time to work out?

    Well, that depends on when's the best time for you.

    --- The best time of the day is when you will do it most consistently, because the benefits of physical activity are tightly linked to the amount you do on a consistent basis,--- said Russell Pate, Ph.D., professor of exercise science in the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina in Columbia.

    Your best time is based on a --- constellation--- of factors:

    • location,
    • time of day,
    • type of physical activity and
    • social setting, among others.

    ---It's not just what time, but what activity, with whom and where,---said Pate, who is also an American Heart Association volunteer. This mix of factors for people come together to result in being consistent.

    Everybody's Different

    ---Different people will have different preferences and predispositions with regard to how they respond to exercise at different times of the day,---Pate said.

    For example, if you're much more likely to work out consistently with a partner, ---then you're better off to opt for a social part regardless of the time of day,---Pate said. ---On the other hand, some people like the solitude, the chance to get away.

    You might have heard that the best time to work out is early in the morning — to get your metabolism revving or to avoid unexpected distractions during the day that could derail your regimen. ---Are there differences in working out at different times of the day? Maybe. But those differences would be minor compared to the overall effect of doing it consistently,---Pate said.

    ---If you're not a morning person, it does no good for you to try to get up at 5 in the morning to work out,---he said. ---Try to stack as many cards on your side of the table as possible by doing what's most likely to work for you. The converse is, don't make it as hard as it doesn't have to be.

    Fit in Fitness

    The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity. But what if you're tight on time? Then, be creative and break up your activity into daily bouts of 3-10-minute increments.

    For example:

    • In the morning, park 10 minutes away from the job and walk briskly.
    • At lunch, walk 10 minutes in or around where you work.
    • In the afternoon/evening, walk briskly 10 minutes back to your vehicle.

    And there you have a 30-minute workout!

    ---Accumulation across the day doesn't have to be performed in one bout, but can be across the day,---Pate said. ---More is better, but we're absolutely certain even modest amounts are much better than being sedentary.---And remember, ---exercise---is any kind of physical activity that gets your heart rate up for at least 10 minutes at a time.

    So get moving — at the time that's right for you!

  • Fairfield Central High School: A partnership for community health Fairfield Central High School: A partnership for community health Elizabeth Gerndt | 07/27/2016 Fairfield Central High School makes open community use of its outdoor facilities work.

    fairfieldHow does Fairfield Central High School make open community use of its outdoor facilities work? “It’s a partnership”, says Principal Tracie Swilley, “If we give back to the community in ways to show them how to be healthy, it’s going to better our community.” According to Principal Swilley, the outdoor track is used daily by community members as a place to walk, jog or run. Located off US-321 Bypass in Winnsboro, Fairfield Central is the only high school in the county. Principal Swilley credits the strong pride for the Griffins as the reason littering, property damage and vandalism have not been a problem. She has also found an open dialogue between the school and the community to be an important part in ensuring that open community use can be practiced in a way that is beneficial for everyone. Because Fairfield Central is located within a tight-knit community, information about open community use of the outdoor facilities is often spread through word of mouth. In addition, the school partners with local organizations for a number of community-wide events, such as Fairfield Behavioral Health Services’ Recovery Walk. These events help bring awareness to the existence of the track and field as well as strengthen the relationship between the school and the community.

    The track is open for community use from dawn to dusk every day, unless it is being used for student activities. During school hours, users are simply asked to check in at the front desk. Location of the track is key. While there is a gate blocking entrance to the track and field from the front of the building, community members are able to access the facilities from the back side of the school. Principal Swilley believes that because the track is located behind the school, it serves as a safe, private place for people to exercise while avoiding the fear of judgment that is often associated with attending a gym.

    Allowing the community access to the Fairfield Central track has been influential in giving the school a positive image in the community. Principal Swilley recommends open community use for schools that are trying to build community rapport. “I would encourage it, especially if it’s a small community like ours where the recreational facilities are limited,” she said. “If people are healthy, that means you have healthier citizens in the community, healthier people that can partner with you, and healthier people that are passing those lifestyles to the children you engage with every day.”

    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.

  • Staying Active in Warm Weather Staying Active in Warm Weather 07/08/2016 Ample sunshine, longer days and warmer temperatures provide more opportunities for the whole family to get outside and get active!

    summertimeAmple sunshine, longer days and warmer temperatures provide more opportunities for the whole family to get outside and get active! Try walking, swimming, biking, skating, jumping rope, building a backyard obstacle course, or organizing a neighborhood soccer game. Even gardening, pushing a stroller or walking the dog counts. Learn the American Heart Association's Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adultsand the recommendations in children.

    But when the temperature goes up, being active outdoors can be more challenging. It's easier to become overheated when the sun is beaming down all day. The warm months also bring humidity to many parts of the country. With humidity, your sweat doesn'۪t evaporate as quickly, so your body has a harder time releasing heat. Download our Warm Weather Fitness Guide!

    Tips to keep in mind

    1. Timing is key: Try to avoid exercising outside in the early afternoon. It'۪s usually hottest between noon and 3 p.m.
    2. Hydrate: Drink water before, during and after physical activity, even if you don't feel thirsty. Bring a bottle of water with you, or plan water stops along your route.
    3. Dress for success: Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothes. Moisture-wicking fabric can also be a big help. Protect yourself from the sun with sunglasses, a hat or visor and plenty of sweat-resistant sunscreen.
    4. Listen to your body: Take frequent breaks in the shade, and drink water before you'۪re thirsty. Allow yourself time to adapt to the heat — some experts say that this can take about 4-14 days. You may not be able to work out as long or as hard as usual when it's very hot.
    5. Doctor'۪s orders: Check with your healthcare professional before starting an exercise routine or moving your workout outdoors if you have cardiovascular disease, diabetes, other chronic disease or any medical concerns. Certain medications like beta blockers, ace receptor blockers, ace inhibitors, calcium channel blockers and diuretics can exaggerate the body'۪s response to heat.
    6. Buddy up: If you can, work out with a partner for safety … and fun!

    Keep cool as you refuel

    Try light, healthy pre- and post-workout snacks that can also help you stay cool, such as:

    • Chilled or frozen fruit
    • Homemade popsicles made from 100 percent fruit juice
    • Fruit smoothies
    • Cold salads loaded with vegetables, beans, legumes and heart-healthy fish like albacore tuna or salmon
    • Crisp, chilled raw veggies like cucumber, carrot or celery with a light, cool dip
    • Cold sparkling water with a splash of 100% fruit juice or slices of citrus or cucumber

    Beat the heat

    If you find you just can'۪t tolerate the heat, don'۪t skip out on your workout or physical activity time!

    • Find indoor locations where you can be active, such as a shopping mall, gym or community recreation center.
    • Discover activities you can do in your home or at work.
    • Adjust your workout schedule to early morning or late evening when it's cooler outside.

    Know the signs of heat-related conditions

    According to the National Institutes of Health, heat illnesses or emergencies can occur with exposure to high temperatures and humidity.

    Dehydration can occur when you don'۪t replace body fluids lost by sweating. Being even slightly dehydrated can make you feel bad and put you at greater risk for heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

    Watch for these signs of mild to moderate dehydration:

    • Thirst
    • Dry or sticky mouth
    • Dry, cool skin
    • Headache
    • Muscle cramps
    • Not urinating much or darker-colored urine

    Signs of severe dehydration:

    • Not urinating or very dark-colored urine
    • Dry, shriveled skin
    • Irritability or confusion
    • Dizziness or lightheadedness
    • Rapid heartbeat
    • Breathing rapidly
    • Fatigue or listlessness
    • Unconsciousness

    Heat cramps are the first stage of heat illness and can share some of the symptoms of dehydration:

    • Muscle cramps and pains, often in the legs or abdomen
    • Very heavy sweating
    • Fatigue
    • Thirst

    Heat exhaustion symptoms include:

    • Headache
    • Dizziness or lightheadedness
    • Weakness
    • Cool, moist skin
    • Dark urine
    • Nausea and vomiting

    If you experience signs of dehydration, heat cramps or heat exhaustion:

    • Stop exercising right away.
    • Sip water or suck on ice cubes.
    • Move to the shade or indoors as soon as possible.
    • Douse yourself with cold water.
    • Apply cold, wet cloths to the neck, groin and armpits.
    • Seek medical attention if your condition doesn'۪t improve or gets worse.

    Heat stroke is when the body is no longer able to regulate its temperature, and it keeps rising. This is very serious and requires immediate medical attention.

    Call 9-1-1 and take the actions above right away if you experience these symptoms:

    • High fever (above 104 degrees F)
    • Hot, dry, red skin
    • Fast, weak pulse
    • Fast, shallow breathing
    • Irrational behavior or extreme confusion
    • Seizure or unconsciousness
  • Adventure Abounds in Poinsett State Park Adventure Abounds in Poinsett State Park Deanna Anderson | 06/29/2016 Poinsett is quickly becoming the premier location for mountain bikers and hikers.

    PoinsettAs far as State Parks go, Poinsett may be tucked away and less famous than Sesqui, Table Rock, or Myrtle Beach State Parks. But, Poinsett is quickly becoming the premier location for mountain bikers and hikers.

    With almost twenty-miles of trails, campgrounds or cabins, and only twenty minutes from Sumter, Poinsett is the perfect get away for nature and outdoor enthusiasts.  The park also offers a variety of other activities such as swimming, boating, fishing, stand-up paddle boards, and educational programs.  Every year it hosts Take A Kid Mountain Biking, First Day Hikes, National Trails Day, and the Knot Mountain Bike Race; all of which support the community and encourage outdoor and active lifestyles.

    All of the trails in Poinsett are multi-use for both hikers or mountain bikers, vary in length from 1.5 miles to 5.3 miles, and intersect so trails cab be combined for a longer adventure.  Easy to read trail maps are provided in the Ranger�۪s Office and all of the rangers are very knowledgeable about the trails and can tell you which trail best suits your needs.  The trails are color-coded with clear tree blazes in corresponding colors; making these trails easy for even basic or beginner hikers to follow.

    In addition to the great trails inside the park, the Palmetto Trail also cuts right through the park, utilizing pre-existing trails.  The Palmetto Trail is a 400-plus mile trail that bisects our state in half and is maintained by the Palmetto Conservation Foundation.  It is divided into different sections and can be day- or thru-hiked.  The Wateree Passage starts in Manchester State Forest (which surrounds Poinsett), becomes the High Hills of Santee Passage as it enters Poinsett and then meanders out of the park and down to Mill Creek and the Lake Marion Passage.  The Palmetto Trail adds another 20+ miles of trail near Poinsett.

    Dubbed the ���mountains of the Midlands�۝ it is part of the sand hills region—meaning that millions of years ago it was the beach of the ocean—and the diversity of plant life astounds even avid naturalists.  It is one of the few places people can see Spanish Moss draped from a Mountain Laurel.  Poinsett is also rife with history.  It was once a rice plantation, a grist mill (ruins of the mill can still be seen there today), and was one of the parks built by the Civilian Conservation Corp in the 1930�۪s.

    Camping is available for primitive sites, with water and electric hook-up, or RV hookups and the campgrounds, as well as other facilities, are always immaculately clean.  The rangers are like family, and the activities offered are simpler and quieter without the hustle and bustle of more tourist destinations.

    Call Poinsett today or visit their website and make arrangements to visit this quaint park.  Spend the day or spend the weekend at Poinsett and fall in love with outdoor adventure all over again.

  • Brockman Elementary: Creating a Culture of Wellness Brockman Elementary: Creating a Culture of Wellness Elizabeth Gerndt | 06/08/2016 Open community use makes Brockman welcoming to everyone.

    brockman“Any of our families will tell you… they always feel welcome here,” explains Brockman Elementary School Principal Dr. Eunice Williams. One way this inviting attitude is apparent is through the school’s open community use of their outdoor recreational facilities. Due in part to its location within a residential neighborhood in Forest Acres, families and community members can easily access the school and often use the property in a variety of ways. The school has multiple playgrounds, a small track, and a softball field that are all available for use by families and neighbors. The playgrounds are gated and locked during the school day and while aftercare is in session for the safety of staff and students. However, the gates remain unlocked afterwards and until the last custodian leaves at 9:30 p.m. On Friday afternoons, the gates are intentionally left unlocked so that families are able to access the playgrounds all weekend. Brockman keeps families informed of this practice through communications such as the school’s biweekly newsletter.

    A few steps were necessary before Brockman Elementary was able to open their outdoor facilities to the community outside of school hours. When Dr. Williams first started at Brockman three years ago, a number of updates were needed to make the property safer. These updates were possible thanks to strong parent involvement and fundraising through the school’s Parent Teacher Organization and Fine Arts Boosters. Dr. Williams points to open communication and strong relationships with parents and neighbors as a crucial aspect to making open community use a success. She believes open community use has helped make her school a safer environment for everyone by increasing community ownership of the property and pride for the school. Brockman Elementary has not experienced any problems with littering or vandalism as a result of allowing open community use. In order to avoid problems with property damage, Dr. Williams recommends that other schools that may be interested in allowing open community use work diligently to clearly communicate rules and expectations and establish an understanding of why those rules are in place.

    Open community use is just one of many ways Brockman Elementary School illustrates that establishing a culture of wellness is a top priority. Rather than participating in traditional fundraising activities, such as selling cookie dough, Brockman participates in an annual FUNd RUN where students pledge to walk/run/move while gathering family and friends to sponsor their efforts. The school also hosts an afterschool running club called Bears on Track with over 40 runners and 10 coaches. Because of its efforts to promote a healthy lifestyle for their students, families and community, Brockman has been recognized with the National Healthy Schools Bronze Award from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation for the past two years. Dr. Williams knows the value of having parents involved and engaged in order to teach why focusing on health is so important. She points to open community use as just another part of this parent education, saying, “I think it’s great to see our families on the playgrounds with our kids because I think it’s a bonding time, time spent away from an electronic device, time out in fresh air, and that’s exactly what we want. That’s a part of our parent education. Spend time with your children in a positive environment, and if it’s here, that’s fine.”

    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.

  • McCracken Middle School: Safe Access for the Community McCracken Middle School: Safe Access for the Community Sandra Sessions | 05/25/2016 McCracken Middle School is a school that believes in community involvement and opportunities for every child.

    McCrackenMcCracken Middle School, located in District 7 of Spartanburg County, is a school that firmly believes in community involvement and limitless opportunities for every child. One of the many things that make this school such a welcoming and essential part of the community is that McCracken Middle practices open community use, which allows members of the community safe access to the outdoor facilities on campus.

    The people of Spartanburg have access to the track, basketball courts, sidewalks, tennis courts, and other blacktop areas during the open community use hours. Members of the community walk the sidewalk in front of the school throughout the day. McCracken Middle School has made a simple agreement with the City of Spartanburg, which makes this movement possible. The school unlocks the gate on school days, and the city closes it in the evenings. The city is responsible for providing access on weekends, holidays, and during the summer. These joint efforts ensure that the residents of Spartanburg can use the school grounds and play equipment at their convenience.

    The results of this movement demonstrate that members of the community are becoming more active and more social. Walking groups and friendships are established among frequent visitors, along with a sense of caring and pride in the community. Principal Margaret Peach sees this as an opportunity to invite the community to see the splendor of McCracken Middle, and to build relationships with people who might not have children enrolled in the school. Open community use welcomes the public to be a part of the community. Principal Peach notes that open community use is very important to the area because of the loss of open space as a result of the decreasing size of home lots and an increasing number of students living in apartments. The school campus is a valuable resource for physical activity because it is central to the community, accessible, safe and free.

    Trash accumulation and vandalism are common concerns associated with open community use. However, Principal Peach has noticed the opposite occurring. The public�۪s growing sense of community from participation in open community use has prompted residents to take greater responsibility in picking up trash left behind by others. Also, the Environmental Science class at McCracken Middle takes time during class hours to pick up trash. Even with the increased use of the school grounds, vandalism has not been an issue.

    The school has also instituted a ���no pet�۝ policy, including signage that clearly states the policy to avoid animal waste and other problems that might occur. Like any successful policy, teamwork is a crucial component that is necessary to continue the success of open community use. All staff members are involved in the process, from the school district superintendent and principal to the district safety coordinator and maintenance staff. Open community use has undoubtedly been a benefit to McCracken Middle School, as well as the entire local community.

    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.

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