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  • Stretch Your Way to Better Sleep Stretch Your Way to Better Sleep 03/13/2019 Stretching before you go to bed will loosen muscle tightness and help you relax so that you feel comfortable and are ready for ...

    Do you lie awake at night feeling frustrated because you can’t sleep? Alternatively, maybe you wake frequently and end up feeling grouchy and tired in the day. If such symptoms of insomnia plague you, it might be worth taking expert advice and partaking in more exercise than you do currently.

    Studies reveal that people who find it hard to fall asleep do not usually engage in enough physical activity to promote a healthy night‘s rest. However, people who are physically active on a regular basis tend to enjoy sound sleep. If you have a desk job, chances are you don’t have many opportunities to exercise. Maybe, like many people in the modern world, a great deal of your life revolves around laborsaving technology, which helps provide you with more time in which to work. As a result, you might feel tired at the end of the day, but your body has not really had an adequate workout.
    Stretching is a great technique to encourage sleep to come your way as it can help you unwind and release stress. At the same time, exercising in the comfort of your home is cost-effective and easy compared to going to a fitness center. 

    Guide to Stretching Safely  
    Carry out a light physical activity before beginning as this will help ease you gently into stretching exercises. If you experience pain, stop the particular exercise you are doing, and moderate your regime so that you are comfortable. At the same time, if you have an injury or health condition, ask your physician to recommend the best type of stretches to suit your needs.


    • Lie on your back, bend your knees and place your feet on the floor.
    • Extend your arms by your sides, and face the palms of your hands upwards.
    • Keeping your arms, the backs of your hands, and your feet on the floor, raise the mid section of your body to form a bridge shape.
    • Hold this position for 10 seconds before resting.
    Calf Stretch
    • Stand an arm’s length away from a wall.
    • Place your left foot behind your right foot.
    • Bend your right leg forward gently while keeping your left knee straight.
    • Keep your back straight, and your feet on the floor pointing forward.
    • Hold for 30 seconds before repeating the exercise with the opposite leg.
    Seated Side Bend
    • Sit cross-legged on a cushion.
    • Place your right hand on the ground next to your right hip, and bend your elbow a little.
    • Extend your left arm up over your head, past your left ear.
    • Lean to the right, and hold the position for a count of 10.
    • Repeat the stretch with the opposite arm.

    Stretching before you go to bed will loosen muscle tightness and help you relax, so that you feel comfortable and are ready for a good night’s sleep. There are many other stretching exercises that you might like to try, including some that target specific areas of your body. However, the bridge, calf stretch, and seated side bend are excellent exercises with which to begin.


  • How to Stick to Your Workout During the Holidays How to Stick to Your Workout During the Holidays 12/11/2018 You don't have to sacrifice your fitness during the holidays.

    The holiday season is full of fun and togetherness, but it can also be hectic on your daily schedule. Finding time for a run around the block or to hit the gym can be difficult, with all the shopping and celebrations. Some people might put their fitness on hold for the holidays, but you don't have to! These tips will help you stay on top of your exercise regimen.


    1. Workout in the morning
      Holiday celebrations tend to happen later in the day, so you might want to consider moving your workouts to earlier in the morning. This way, you won't need to worry about finding time for your workout in a busy afternoon or having to skip workouts to go to holiday parties. Try to start working out in the morning as soon as possible, so that when the busy holiday time comes around, you'll already be in the habit.
    2. Set goals when you wake up 
      The most common personality trait for successful people is setting goals every day. Apply this to your workout routine. When you wake up, tell yourself what your exercise goals are. Do you want to run on the treadmill for at least a mile? Or maybe you want to make it through a full Pilates routine? Setting goals is important because it gives you something to strive for every day. Make sure they are low enough that you can reliably reach them most days since you don't want to discourage yourself, but also make sure they are substantial enough that you will actually feel proud accomplishing them. Whatever your fitness goals are, remind yourself of them before you start your day.
    3. Keep a calendar
      A calendar is so much more than a collection of days and events. It serves as a reminder of where you're going and where you've been. After completing your workouts, record them on your calendar for that day. Something as simple as "ran two miles" will do the trick. The key is to only add your exercise after the workout. This way you can keep yourself accountable for sticking to your regimen. If you notice a series of blank days, you'll know something is keeping you from working out. Perhaps because you've been too busy shopping for presents. The calendar will let you know when there is a problem so that you can figure out what you need to change in order to get your exercise back on track.
    4. Consider shorter workouts
      If you have an exceptionally busy holiday season, you might want to consider cutting your exercise time. While this isn't ideal, you don't want to overtax yourself during what is already a stressful season. If you're worried about slowing down your fitness progress, you can always opt for more rigorous workouts to make up for the loss of time.
    You don't have to sacrifice your fitness to enjoy the holiday season. By incorporating these habits into your daily routine, you can stay on top of your workouts and maintain your momentum toward your exercise goals. Enter the new year as a healthier you!


  • The Fellowship of Sweat in a Spartanburg Running Club The Fellowship of Sweat in a Spartanburg Running Club Ned Barrett | 08/27/2018 If you look around Spartanburg, you’ll notice more of these kinds of groups—social events where people exercise.

    Most Tuesday evenings for the last couple of years, you’ll find me running with the RJ Rockers Run Club. This event, hosted by Partners for Active Living and RJ Rockers, has become one of my can’t-miss dates. There are usually 20 or so runners who take on the 3-mile course with an option to add a mile. We run through Hampton Heights or Converse Heights or Wofford. It’s a pretty strong group of runners, and every week, it seems, there are a couple of new people. We encourage and push and hold each other accountable.

    Or maybe we all want to come out on Tuesdays because we’ve come to like each other. Icee pops and water are free, and the beer Rockers sells helps support our mission. The community we create is real. Don’t get me wrong—I do most of my running solo. But as a social animal, I still like my group runs. We talk about everything and nothing, and the miles pass by sometimes unnoticed.

    If you look around Spartanburg, you’ll notice more of these kinds of groups—social events where people exercise. There are other running groups that meet at different places, several bike rides from various locations every week, workout groups that coordinate through social media, and I see groups of friends walking or running on the MBF Rail Trail every day. When we talk about building community, this is part of the story.

    Getting out takes discipline, but the “good-mornings” and waves on the Rail Trail, the fellowship of sweat, the beer and icee pops after a summer run, the “you-can-do-its” from your buddies and maybe the responsibility of showing up keep you going.

    Learn more about the RJ Rockers Run Club.

  • Morning Walks at Cottonwood Trail Morning Walks at Cottonwood Trail Ned Barrett | 08/15/2018 I started going to Cottonwood Trail in Spartanburg for its flatness and of course for its beauty. But now that I’ve started run...

    Every morning for about three weeks, I walked with my dog Hope on the Cottonwood Trail in Spartanburg. For at least twenty minutes every morning, Hope explored her way - nose down -finding out who knows what about the world there.

    I think it’s her reminder that has made this become a ritual. She holds me accountable in her way, looking up when I approach my shoes or the drawer where we keep the leashes. It’s something that I find more and more important for my own healthy habits.

    I get a wake up walk at a slower pace than I’m used to. This habit started when I rolled my ankle running on July 4, 2017. My first thought was of chronic ankle injuries that really limited my friends’ running—not something I’m interested in. My running habit is at the top of my list.

    So I committed to a slow but consistent rehabilitation. I started going to Cottonwood Trail for its flatness and of course for its beauty. But now that I’ve started running again, I want to keep my promise to Hope of a daily morning walk.

    All along I’ve used various methods to hold myself accountable to my goals large and small, from telling my friends to raising money for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Disease Research to being nudged by my current canine exercise partner. All have helped me maintain the motivation to stay active and healthy.

    This article was originally published in Partners for Active Living by Ned Barrett .

  • My Three Favorite Hikes in Spartanburg at Croft State Park My Three Favorite Hikes in Spartanburg at Croft State Park Ned Barrett | 08/15/2018 If you’re looking for a nice place to hike in the Upstate, these three trails at Croft State Park in Spartanburg, SC will give ...

    If you’re looking for a nice place to hike in the Upstate, these three trails at Croft State Park are pretty easy in terms of terrain and way-finding. Each will give you a glimpse of a different element of the park, from lakeside to creekside to hillside.

    1. Lake Johnson Trail (1.5 miles) This trail loops around Lake Johnson, the smaller of the lakes at Croft State Park. With views of the lake nearly the entire time, this trail is a sure crowd pleaser. Add in that it is one of the least difficult trails at Croft and you have the makings of a wonderful family outing. This loop requires some road walking. Park at Lake Johnson (on Johnson Lake Road—I know) and start off behind the picnic shelter.
    2. The Nature Trail (1.5 miles) This trail starts near the riding ring in the center of the park, and parallels the Fairforest Creek for a good ways, then returns higher up the hillside above the creek. You also pass an old iron bridge near the site of Foster’s Mill, remnants from the long history of the Croft area. Park near the Park Office.
    3. Fern Gully Trail (1.75 miles total) The Fern Gully Trail itself is a little less than a mile long (it links two other sections of trail for the loop), but it provides plenty of punch. Access to this trail is easiest from the Southside Park area; start off on Southside Loop (either way). The first trail intersection you come to will be Fern Gully. The Trail traverses the drainages that flow down into the Fairforest Creek through an established hardwood forest. Not much up-and-down here, but plenty of twists and turns.

    Learn more about Croft State Park in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

    This article was originally published in Partners for Active Living by Ned Barrett .

  • Walking: The Most Popular Form of Exercise Walking: The Most Popular Form of Exercise 07/03/2018 Follow these tips getting started and learn more about fitness walking

    When it comes to simple ways to be healthy, walking is all the rage. Follow these tips getting started and learn more about fitness walking.

    You can get active in lots of ways, but walking is one of the easiest! For most people, it’s safe, easy to stick with, and low- or no-cost. It doesn’t require any special skills or equipment. For such a simple activity, it has so many benefits.

    For every hour of brisk walking, life expectancy for some people may increase by two hours. Research has shown that walking at least 150 minutes a week can help you:

    • Reduce your risk of serious diseases like heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.
    • Improve your blood pressure, blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels.
    • Increase your energy and stamina.
    • Improve your mental and emotional well-being.
    • Boost bone strength and reduce your risk of osteoporosis.
    • Prevent weight gain.

    If 150 minutes sounds like a lot, remember that even short 10-minute activity sessions can be added up over the week to reach this goal. And it’s easy to fit in 10 minutes of walking a few times a day.

    Walking vs. Running

    Did you know more Americans walk for fitness than run? Maybe you’re not that into running. Or maybe you’ve had an injury and can’t run anymore. Then just walk — every step counts. In fact, walking briskly can help your health as much as running, according to a 2013 research study.

    How To Walk For Fitness

    • Gear up. All you need to get started are comfortable clothes and supportive shoes. Keep your cool by layering clothing, because exercise raises your body’s temperature. Shoes designed for walking or running are best, but not required. Just make sure you have a little wiggle room (about half an inch) between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. Avoid cotton socks because they retain moisture and can lead to blisters. (Who knew?!)
    • Easy does it. If you’re out of shape, begin with short distances. Start with a stroll that feels comfortable (perhaps 10-15 minutes) and gradually increase your time or distance. If it’s easier on your body and your schedule, stick with a couple of 10- to 20-minute walks a day instead of one long walk.
    • Focus on form. Keep your head lifted (no texting!), abs engaged and shoulders relaxed. Swing your arms naturally. Avoid carrying heavy items or hand weights because they can put extra stress on your elbows and shoulders – try a backpack instead. Stick to a comfortable, natural stride.
    • Breathe. If you can’t talk or catch your breath while walking, slow down. At first, forget about speed. Just get out there and walk!
    • Pick up the pace. To warm up, walk at an easy pace for the first several minutes. Then gradually increase your speed.
    • Add variety and challenge. Try brisk intervals. For example, walk one block fast, two blocks slow and repeat several times. Over time you’ll be able to add more fast intervals with shorter recovery periods. Walking hills or stairs is a great way to increase muscle tone and burn more calories.
    • Stretch. The end of your walk is a great time to stretch since your body is warmed up. Stretch your hamstrings, calves, chest, shoulders and back. Hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds.
    • Track your progress. Fit walking into your schedule whenever you can. That may mean three 10-minute walks a day. When you can fit it in, longer walks will help you improve your stamina. Just remember your overall goal is at least 150 minutes each week.

    Stay Safe While Walking

    • Be alert. Listening to music while you walk can help keep you energized. And making phone calls is a good way to multitask. But if you use headphones, keep the volume low and watch out for traffic that you may not hear. Don’t text or stare at your device while walking, so you can keep your eyes on the road.
    • Stand out. Wear light colors or reflective clothing and carry a flashlight or glow stick (it adds to the fun!) if you walk when visibility is low.
    • Be street smart. Walking on sidewalks is best, but if you have to walk on the street, stick to streets with lower speed limits and make sure drivers can see you.
    • Know the neighborhood. Note which businesses are open when you’ll be walking and the location of emergency telephones. Walk on well-traveled streets rather than taking shortcuts through alleys or parking lots.
    • Stick together. Walk with a partner or in a group. Or bring your dog along -- you’ll both get healthier.
    • Listen to your body. If you have foot, knee, hip or back pain when walking, STOP and check with your doctor to find out the cause. You may need different shoes or another form of activity like cycling or water exercise. But don’t give up! Find the activity that’s right for you.

    Just Walk

    Maybe you haven’t been active for a while. No problem! Just get started. It’s not all or nothing… it’s step by step. Even if you’re already active, here are some easy ways you can add more steps into your day:

    • Grab the leash and take the dog out for a walk.
    • Walk the kids to the park or playground.
    • Forget about rock star parking. Park a bit farther from the entrance to your workplace, school, grocery store, restaurants, etc.
    • Take the stairs instead of the elevator, even if just for one or two floors.
    • Walk to a nearby restaurant for lunch or dinner instead of driving.
    • Catch up with a friend by walking around the block while you chat on the phone.

    Learn More:

  • Just Move! One Step at a Time. Just Move! One Step at a Time. Mike Campbell | 05/29/2018 The furthest thing from TheFatGuy's mind was establishing a exercise program, riding a bike, going to the gym, anything that in...

    One question I get from a lot of people is "What exercises did you do when you started, and what was the first thing you did to exercise?"

    Well, when I started my journey, at almost 360 pounds, I did not want to do anything. I had not really been doing anything active, it just was too much to consider. I avoided steps with a passion. I had a bike in the garage that I would not ride because it was too uncomfortable. I felt I had no energy for moving and exercise. I was exhausted all of the time, taking 7 different medications, using a CPAP machine at night, and just plain felt horrible. The furthest thing from TheFatGuy's mind was establishing a exercise program, riding a bike, going to the gym, anything that involved lugging my 360 pound body from point A to point B.

    So what did I do? For the first 6 weeks of my journey to ME, MY journey to fitness, I concentrated on researching my diet and how I could work toward something that would work for me. I concentrated on developing my log and my mental plan. I knew I needed to incorporate exercise into my plan, but I was determined to get my eating on track (under control) and dedicate myself to researching my diet and evaluating me.

    The only thought that was in my head about exercise the first 6 weeks was JUST MOVE! Yep, that is it. I did it in digestible chunks one minute at a time, one step at a time, one day at a time, always moving forward. I did a lot of little things. I walked the dogs which was a huge deal to me. I picked up the dumbbells I had around the house and just did simple routines of no more than 30 minutes. I started walking up and down steps more which was a big deal for someone that avoided one flight of steps. By Day 29 I got on my bike for the first time in years. On Day 30 I walked 12 holes of golf before a blister got the best of me. On Day 34 I walked 1.5 miles at my in-laws house in Pickens on a hilly road. I kept it simple (KISS) and JUST MOVED.

    Day 43 was my first day in a gym. I felt I was comfortable with the progress I had made with my diet and log. I had lost 27 pounds and was ready to challenge myself. I was ready to take those next steps. I figured out the path that worked for me. I knew I needed to start moving more at the beginning and that lead me to the gym and more structure in my exercise.

    So now TheFatGuy that couldn't climb one flight of steps can do 122 straight reps of going up 17 bleachers and down 34 steps. I did it one step at a time!

    Note to YOU and ME: JUST MOVE! Take that first step and then do it one step at a time!

    This post was originally published at FatGuyDiary.com.


  • The Weirdest Workouts Across South Carolina The Weirdest Workouts Across South Carolina Heather Cooper Curtis | 05/29/2018 We're all a little weird, and so are these workouts. You won’t regret giving one of these offbeat sweat sessions in South Carol...


    We’re all a little weird and so are these workouts:

    Maya Movement Arts

    Options range from Dance Trapeze Basics to Dance Trapeze 1 and 2, allowing for level advancement and a continued fitness challenge. Maya Movement Arts students start with basic trapeze entrances and exit, conditioning, transitioning, and balancing on and around the carbon bar. Approval is required by the studio owner, Kelly VanLeeuwen, to progress to the next level where inversions are addressed, endurance is focused on, and technique is refined. The website advises adhering to a strict dress code. Covering the armpits with a t-shirt and the back of knees with capris or pants are recommended. Clothing should be tight or form-fitting as to avoid getting caught or tangled in the apparatus. Layers are a good idea too, helping minimize bruising and scraping.

    Gravitopia Extreme Air Sports

    As the Gravitopia website quotes, “20 minutes of rebounding is equal to 1 hour of running, from a cardiovascular perspective…rebounding burns up to 1,000 calories per hour.” GravityFit is a style workout that puts less impact and strain on the joints.

    Wicked Pole Fitness

    Engage your abs, arms, shoulders, legs, and feet...yep, feet. An intimate, sensual, and empowering workout, pole sculpting mixes tricks and sits for a full-body conditioning workout. Improve flexibility and confidence in a zero-judgment environment. Consider Wicked Cycle-Boxing as the weird-workout runner-up at Wicked Fitness. You may have heard, seen, and/or experienced CycleRow or some variation of cycling and yoga but Cycle-Boxing is a new combination coming soon to the studio.

    Train Coastal Climbing

    With five available plans to pick from (Personal Training, Antagonist Training for climbing, Pull-up Progression, Finger Strength Training, and Endurance Blast), Coastal Climbing provides a workout option for every fitness goal and level. Beginners should take a Quick Class or beginning climbing lesson before purchasing a Train package. Clients can expect to train independently 2-4 times per work for 10-12 weeks with occasional meetings (as needed) led by a qualified instructor. In the words of Miley Cyrus, “There's always gonna be another mountain, I'm always gonna wanna make it move. Always gonna be an uphill battle, sometimes I'm gonna have to lose. Ain't about how fast I get there, ain't about what's waiting on the other side, it's the climb.”

    Primal Move

    If you live a fairly sedentary lifestyle, sitting for extended periods of time at a desk and/or computer then this is the workout for you. Go back to the basics and relearn how to use your body without unnatural compensation. Think crawling-variations and proper breathing exercises. This class will improve mobility, core strength and posture in a purposeful and playful method. All fitness levels are welcome.

    Whether you go through fitness phases, are a Peloton-aholic, or haven’t found your groove yet, you won’t regret giving one of these offbeat sweat sessions a try.

    Stay strong, stay fit + stay fabulous!

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