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  • 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.

  • 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 fu...

    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!

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