Fitness Tips

September 27, 2013

There are so many different types of geo-locations waiting to be discovered along the Post Grape-Nuts Fit “What’s Your Mountain?” Challenge. Whether nestled along a trail, atop a mountain, at a scenic overlook, or beside a shoreline, the one thing the geo-locations have in common is that they’re easier to reach when you’ve got a strong core to power you.

fitness tips, core tips

Image: www.andrewsimkiss.com

With that in mind, here’s a quick tip to help you strengthen your own core and tackle your mountain when you play a GeoChallenge this fall.

The pelvic tilt

Inspired by Pilates, this move works your entire abdominal core. Here’s how to do it:

1. Go onto your hands and knees with your back in a neutral position.
2. Tilt your pelvis like you’re drawing your pubic bone toward your belly button.
3. Exhale and draw in your abdominals, which causes your pelvis to tilt.
4. Repeat for 10-15 reps.

Why is this better than a sit up?

The pelvic tilt and sit ups work the same muscles. However, the exhale of the pelvic tilt activates the deepest abdominal muscles which often and easily get neglected due to incorrect form during sit ups.

Source: www.fitbie.com

September 20, 2013

Are you looking to take your hiking skills to the next level in order to conquer your mountain for the Post Grape-Nuts Fit “What’s Your Mountain?” Challenge? If so, consider this fitness tip borrowed from professional athletes: interval training!

fitness tips for hiking

Image: www.trailporn.com

What is interval training?

Interval training involves short periods of high-intensity activity interspersed with lower-intensity “recovery” breaks. Why? Your muscles need oxygen to power you through your hikes. However, sometimes — especially during particularly strenuous exercise — your muscles may need energy faster than your body is able to provide oxygen. When this happens for an extended period of time, your body creates a by-product called lactate, or lactic acid. When lactic acid builds up in the muscles, you can experience fatigue. Interval training aims to improve the body’s ability to get rid of lactic acid buildup faster than it can accumulate. This will allow you to hike quicker and endure longer excursions before you begin to feel tired.

How to interval train on a hike?

It’s a cinch! Hike vigorously for 5 minutes or so, and then slow your pace for 5 minutes. Continue this pattern, alternating between intense and more leisurely hiking, throughout your trek. The more you train, the less tired you will find yourself on your outings, and the easier it will be for you to conquer your mountain!

Source: www.outdoors.org

September 13, 2013

There are many reasons we enjoy exploring the great outdoors, but one thing we like most is the excitement of never knowing what we might see or encounter. While an unexpected wildlife sighting or hidden overlook along the way is always welcome, there are unfortunately less pleasant surprises that may await along our journeys. Falling limbs, dangerous animals and speeding vehicles are just a few of the more unsavory surprises that can put a major damper on outdoor explorations. Use these fitness tips to strengthen your reflexes, which will help keep you out of harm’s way as you play the Post Grape-Nuts Fit “What’s Your Mountain?” Challenge. (As a bonus, they’re pretty fun on their own!)

wildflower field

Even the most scenic landscapes could be hiding unknown dangers.
[Image: www.theprocrastinatooor.tumblr.com]

Play dodgeball!

All you need is a large foam or rubber ball and a buddy. Stand in front of a wall, and have your friend toss the ball at you from several feet away while you practice dodging out of the way. As you improve at dodging the ball, have your partner throw it faster and from a shorter distance. There is nothing like the possibility of being hit with a ball to sharpen those reflexes in no time!

Practice catching a rubber, bouncy “reaction” ball.

Head to a sporting goods store and pick up a reaction ball. These rubber balls have 6 sides and bounce at unpredictable angles. (If you’re in a pinch, a plain old bouncy ball will also work.) Take the ball outside and toss it against a wall. Practice catching the ball as it bounces back toward you. As your reflex time gets better, throw the ball harder to challenge yourself to leap and dive to catch it.

Source: wikihow.com

September 6, 2013

With Labor Day behind us, there’s only one thing on our minds: Fall’s fast approach! The stunning foliage on display at the state parks makes Autumn a great time to play the Post Grape-Nuts Fit “What’s Your Mountain?” Challenge. Numerous scenic overlooks along the challenge mean you’ll have plenty of opportunities to enjoy stunning scenes like this:

fall foliage fitness tip

Image: www.commons.wikimedia.org

Looking for a fitness tip that will help power you through the vigorous hikes that lead to these overlooks?

Walk on an incline!

Multiple the power of the treadmill by about a zillion when you ramp up the incline. Raising the track emulates the same upward climbing conditions you’re likely to experience in the great outdoors, so it’s great way to condition your body for a hike. Moreover, walking on an incline builds more muscles in your ankles, calves, thighs and glutes than walking on a level surface. The stronger your muscles, the more easily your body will be able to handle challenging treks. 

How to make sure you’re really getting the most out of your incline workout? Walk on a low speed, without hanging onto the bars. 

It’s tempting to crank up the speed when seeking a killer workout. However, a too-high speed often requires gripping the bars for dear life just so you won’t fly off. Unfortunately, holding the bars negates much of the workout’s impact. Instead, walk at a natural speed that you would use for a hike, and let your arms hang freely to ensure that your lower half is doing the work!

August 30, 2013

Do you spend your work days daydreaming about conquering your mountain in the great outdoors? Be honest; we won’t tell!

Image: www.weheartit.com/pretty_little_nook

Do images like this creep into your workplace daydreams?
[Image: www.weheartit.com/pretty_little_nook]

While it’s not always possible to ditch out on work and head to the parks, it is possible to work on your fitness while trapped at the office. That way, when you are able to get out in nature, you’ll be in top shape for reaching your summit! Here are 4 tips for getting fit at work:

1. Utilize Your Lunch Break

While it may be tempting to relax and remain seated during your lunch break, use that time to get up and about. Eat quickly, and then squeeze in a small workout during the rest of the time. Take a short stroll outside, or walk up and down the stairs. Be sure to keep the workout mild (save the serious sweating for the gym). A light workout will benefit you more than sitting would. As an added bonus, the change of scenery is a nice way to break up the day!

2. Space Out Your Trips

It makes sense, time-wise, to save up all of your errands and do them at once (hitting several birds with one stone, if you will). However, if you have time to spare, splitting up your tasks, such as running to UPS or visiting a different floor, is an easy way to stay active throughout the day. Additionally, replace emails and phone calls with face-to-face inter-office communication to get moving in the workplace. Instead of getting up, walking, or taking the stairs once, you will do these things multiple times.

3. Tag Along for Errands

Perhaps you prefer to save money by packing a lunch or brewing your own coffee at home. Even so, tagging along when your coworkers head out to grab a snack or a cup of joe is a great way to incorporate more physical activity into your day.

4. Shun the Elevator

One of the simplest ways to get active at work is to take the stairs instead of the elevator on your way to and from the office. Phase the elevator right out of your routine. Plus, no waiting for minutes on end for the elevator to arrive means you’ll have more time for your work workouts.

Source: FitDay.com

August 23, 2013

Image: www.the893.tumblr.com

Image: www.the893.tumblr.com

Having the endurance to conquer your mountain is not a purely physical matter. In fact, mental stamina is one of the key ingredients when it comes to successfully tackling your goals and powering your adventures – along with Post Grape-Nuts Fit cereal, of course! Whatever mountain you’re hoping to climb, here are 5 tips for boosting your mental stamina to help you get there.

Think positively

Self-confidence is one of the keys to achieving your physical goals. Even the strongest, most talented athletes can crumble when self-doubt creeps in. Have faith in your abilities, and tell yourself that you can do it. Stop negative thoughts in their tracks and replace them with positive ones, and watch your outlook and performance improve.

Visualize

Stressed at the challenge you’re facing? Chill out by visualizing yourself in a relaxing place, or imagine past accomplishments. Focusing on these types of mental images can translate into a huge boost.

Plan for setbacks

Stuff happens, and it’s unreasonable to expect things to go well 100% of the time. When you expect and prepare for tough times, you’ll be much less likely to crumble when they happen, and more likely to bounce back.

Manage stress

If your stress style tends to send you into an anxiety-ridden panic (rather than taking a healthy form, such as pushing you through your adventures), try meditation to relax.

Get more sleep

Shoot for 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Getting enough sleep allows your body to repair itself and can improve both your reaction time and split second decision making.

Source: WebMD

August 16, 2013

Image: www.weheartit.com/marannasam123

Image: www.weheartit.com/marannasam123

Lengthy jaunts in the great outdoors as you conquer your mountain can often entail carrying plenty of equipment along with you. Make sure your arms are strong enough to carry, lift and hold even the heaviest gear with these three quick and easy exercises:

Biceps Curl

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees slightly, and draw in abdominal muscles. Hold arms straight at your sides with palms facing your thighs, and grasp a 5- to 10-pound dumbbell in each hand. Contract your bicep to raise the right dumbbell up. Rotate a quarter turn, making your palm level with and facing your right shoulder. Hold briefly, then slowly return to the starting position. Repeat with left dumbbell. Do 3 sets of 15 reps on each side.

Triceps Extension

Stand with your left foot forward and knees bent. Bend slightly forward at the hips, keeping your abdominal muscles pulled in toward your spine. Rest your left hand on left thigh for support and hold a 3- to 5-pound dumbbell in your right hand. Keep your elbow bent as you pull your right upper arm up and back (it should be nearly parallel with the ground). Extend your arm straight out behind you. Squeeze and hold before returning your arm to the starting position. Do 3 sets of 15 reps on each side.

Overhead Press

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and abdominal muscles pulled in. Hold a 5- to 10-pound dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height. Palms should face forward with elbows pointed down. Raise dumbbells directly up over your shoulders in line with the body so that the weights just touch above your head. Make sure to keep your neck long and shoulders down. Slowly return dumbbells back to starting position. Do 3 sets of 15 reps.

Source: Family Circle 

August 9, 2013

Image: www.lisajuliac.tumblr.com

Image: www.lisajuliac.tumblr.com

When you think of fitness, breathing is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. However, employing proper breathing techniques is essential when hiking and exploring the great outdoors. After all, how can you conquer your mountain if you’re out of breath? Breathing correctly will help your body deliver oxygen to your muscles more efficiently, meaning you can tackle any mountain with ease. If you’re wondering what exactly is the proper breathing technique, here are four key things to remember:

Breathe Through Your Mouth

Although it’s natural to breathe through your nose under normal circumstances, the opposite is true when running, hiking or exercising. Breathing through your mouth allows you to take in more oxygen and release more carbon dioxide, which is the best way to provide your muscles with the oxygen they need.

Breathe from the Belly

Breathe from your belly – not your chest – in order to pump more oxygen into your system. A simple way to adjust to this style of breathing is to lie down and practice when you’re at home. Once you hit the outdoors, it will be easier to apply the breathing technique you’re already familiar with.

Take Short and Shallow Breaths

Short and shallow breaths will keep you going on your outing. On the flip side, long, deep breaths will slow you down. If you hit a particularly steep slope or challenging obstacle, taking a few deep breaths can help you restore your breathing rhythm, but always switch back to short, shallow breaths as soon as you can.

Breathe in Rhythm

No matter how fast or slow you’re moving, it’s essential to breathe in rhythm. This means that you should inhale and exhale at a consistent rate. An easy trick to check your rhythm is to count your steps when exercising, and inhale or exhale once every 2 or 3 steps.

August 2, 2013

You won't need to stop to rest your aching knees after you strengthen them with these exercises! [Image: www.fotografiadellaviola.blogspot.de]

You won’t need to stop to rest your aching knees after you strengthen them with these exercises!
[Image: www.fotografiadellaviola.blogspot.de]

If you’re like many Americans, there’s a good chance that one of your “mountains” is maintaining an active lifestyle that’s not hard on your joints. After all, who wants to worry about knee pain or sore ankles when there are sites to explore and points to be earned along the Post Grape-Nuts Fit “What’s Your Mountain?” Challenge? Certainly not us! We rounded up a few of the best, and simplest, exercises to strengthen your knees and ankles so that you can tackle the great outdoors with ease.

Knees:

Ball-squeeze Squat

Place an exercise ball between your thighs, and squeeze tightly. Slowly lower yourself into a squat until your knees are at a 90 degree angle (or you’re as low as you can go). Repeat for three sets of 12 reps.

Large-step Lunge

Take a large step forward with one leg. Lower your body until your back knee almost touches the floor. Bring your rear leg forward and return to the starting position. Do three sets of 10 reps.

Ankles:

Knee-to-wall Mobilization

Facing a wall, stand about a foot back. Push one knee forward until it touches the wall. Hold for 20 seconds. Do three sets of 10.

Standing-ankle ABCs

Place a semi-rigid pillow or cushion on the floor. Stand on it with one foot and balance. (If you need extra support, you can touch a wall.) With your support foot, trace the alphabet, making each letter until you have run through the alphabet three or four times per foot.

July 26, 2013

family-walking-through-the-woods

The best part of the Post Grape-Nuts Fit “What’s Your Mountain?” Challenge is there is a little something for everyone wrapped up in each state park challenge. Sure the big points come from conquering steep mountain climbs, or embarking on aquatic adventures, but sometimes a casual stroll through the woods or along a stream is the ticket to truly enjoying your surroundings. For today’s fitness tip we’ve decided to take it easy and slow things down a bit—stop and smell the roses, if you will. We’ve rounded up a few simple warm-up stretches for walkers who march at the beat and speed of their own drum.

Arm Circles 

Extend your arms at your side so that your body forms a T-shape. Slowly circle your hands backwards from the wrists about a dozen times, gradually broaden your circles until your entire arms are engaged, repeat with forward circles.

Ankle Circles 

Standing on one foot, slowly raise one leg so that it is straight in front of you; flex your ankle and begin making circles with your toes. Do this for 8 to 10 rounds and then reverse the direction, repeat with other foot.

Leg Swings

Start by standing on one leg; from the hip swing your leg back and forth with your foot no higher than a foot or so off the ground. Keep your motions loose and fluid for the best warm-up. Perform 15 to 20 swings on each leg.

Pelvic Loops

Place your hands on your hips, and stand so that your feet are about hips-distance apart and your legs are gently bent. Keeping your body upright, make slow and steady circles with your hips by pushing them forward, to one side, backward, and to the other side. Reverse direction and repeat, 6 to 10 times each.

July 19, 2013

get-a-better-workout-on-the-beach179020351-jun-18-2012-600x400

If you joined the Rhode Island Post Grape-Nuts Fit “What’s Your Mountain?” Challenge, you’ll notice that a majority of the challenges are at beaches, and why not? It is summer after all! Today’s Friday Fitness tip will help you transform your local beach into a gym without the high membership fee or the smell of sweaty socks. Here we have three major workouts that use the beach for all its worth so you can get that beach body at the actual beach!

Beach Interval Training 

Sand is both a runner’s nightmare and wildest dream; the natural resistance helps to tone and firm up your butt and thighs, and add a little extra oomph to your daily workout routine. Pairing High Intensity Interval Training with sand running is a great way to burn calories while enjoying the great outdoors. Interval training can be altered to fit your schedule and fitness level. Alternating between two levels of intensity is recommended, starting at 20 to 30 minute intervals. If you are just starting out, scope out a spot with damp or more compact sand; for more of a challenge, look for beaches with loose, dry sand.

Wave Jumping

For the aquatic adventurers, wave jumping is an excellent way to get your heart rate up and have a bit of fun at the same time. Like sand running, wave jumping relies on resistance to give your body a full workout, which is why water aerobics and swimming are so effective. Experts recommend spending 30 minutes or so jogging out into the ocean just before you begin your jump-a-thon. Once you’ve met the waves, allow them to crash against you to sort of gauge their strength, then start jumping! It is important not to go too deep into the water for safety issues, but also because it is easier to maintain controlled and consistent jumps when the water and waves are at hip-level. Keeping your body moving and your heart pumping in between waves is a great way to get the most out of this fun and invigorating workout.

Sand Sculpting

Going with the fact that walking in sand burns twice the amount of calories as a normal sidewalk trek, we also like to use it to help add resistance to circuit training. Completing a circuit of the following exercises on dry sand will guarantee you will be breathing heavy and feeling the burn: walking lunges, crabwalks, walk-out pushups, lateral slides, and burpees.

July 12, 2013

Image: www.skinnymom.com

Image: www.skinnymom.com

Before you hop on your bike and attempt to tackle the mountain bike trail in Tennessee’s Post Grape-Nuts Fit “What’s Your Mountain?” Challenge, consider these pro tips for warming up your bod so you can put the pedal to the path without a hitch.

Going for a quick jog or casual run before stretching can help warm you up for your ride and get your heart beat up. Stretching your limbs — or any area that might be harboring tension — with deep but gentle stretches will help prevent stress-related injuries, and prepare you for longer rides. When stretching, you should notice tension decreasing or disappearing altogether—if you feel an increase in tension or any added pain, you are over stretching.

The key to good, thorough stretching is to relax and focus on each stretch being carried out, holding poses for 5 to 30 seconds at a time, and really paying attention to your body’s needs, and what feels good and what does not. Focusing on deep, rhythmic breathing is also a way to ensure that you get the most out of your stretches and warm-ups, and don’t wear yourself out before you even hit the trail.

July 5, 2013

Image: www.t3licensing.com

Image: www.t3licensing.com

Even on the flattest of terrains high-milage hikes can take a toll on the body. Just as in running, swimming, biking, and any other moderate to strenuous activity, a good stretch is the key to longevity and preparing yourself physically for prolonged exercise. Here we have a few simple yet effective stretches to get you pumped physically and mentally before setting out on a long hike. 

Calf Stretches Prevent charlie horses, shin splints, and other leg demons by stretching out those stems. Step up on a rock or other slightly elevated surface so that your heels are just two or three inches over the side. Maintaining balance, raise and lower your heels, feeling the burn all along your calves. Work each calf together for about 30 seconds, and then alternate right to left for another 30 seconds on each side.

Hamstring Stretches Keep those thigh muscles long and loose by laying on the ground (preferably on a towel or sleeping bag) and extend one leg at a time. Bend the knee of the leg remaining on the ground, and place its foot as high up on the elevated leg as feels comfortable. Reach forward with both arms towards the toes of the extended foot, taking care not to over extend the shoulders—this is a leg stretch! Repeat on other side.

Quad StretchesThis easy-peasy stretch is a pedestrian’s lifesave. Stand on the flattest surface you can find, bend one knee and lift that leg back and towards the buttocks. Grab hold of your foot, maintaining balance and control, and gently but thoroughly stretch your raised leg by standing tall. Repeat on other side.

That was easy, now wasn’t it? Now try something challenging by signing up for a Post Grape-Nuts Fit “What’s Your Mountain?” Challenge.

June 28, 2013

Image: www.yogihiker.blogspot.com

Image: www.yogihiker.blogspot.com

Wednesday we featured paddleboarding yogi Jaclynn Kay for What’s Your Mountain, so we found it fitting to include a yoga pose for this week’s Friday Fitness Tip. A paddleboard is optional in this deep-stretch pose, and hikers and backers alike can reap the benefits both before and after a long trek.

Inverted Pigeon

This modification of the popular Pigeon pose seeks to relax and loosen tense muscles that have been put through the stress and rigor of high-mileage hikes. The pose engages the glutes and hamstrings, as well as connective tissues in the thighs.

1. To begin, lie on your back (preferably on a mat or towel) with your knees bent and your feet placed flat on the ground.

2. Place your right ankle over your left knee, slip your right arm through the space created by your legs, and clasp your hands behind your left knee.

3. Slowly and with control, draw your knee in towards your chest, swaying gently side to side, for the length of five deep breaths. Switch sides and repeat steps 1-3 three or four times on each side.

After you’re finished stretching head on over to PocketRanger.com and sign up for one of our many GeoChallenges to truly put yourself to the test!

June 21, 2013

Image: www.smashingtops.com

Image: www.smashingtops.com

As you may have noticed, we’ve kind of got a thing for mountains: conquering them, photographing them—you name it, we’re pumped on peaks. No matter how small the mountain is, reaching its summit always gives us a great sense of accomplishment, and makes us feel as if we can take on anything. Today’s fitness tip is the first in a series of many, many more that will help condition your body to tackle the Tetons or achieve greatness in Appalachia. While mountain scaling is largely a mental endeavor, this and other exercises will give you the physical strength to reach your peak.

The Mountain Climber

This aptly named exercise focuses primarily on the legs, while giving the rest of the body a moderate workout as well. When employing this stretch, get ready to use your abs, glutes, hamstrings, quads, abductors, and deltoids. Phew! Even listing the muscles used wears us out!

1. Start by placing your hands, palms down, on the floor with your legs and feet extended behind you.  Bring your right foot forward just under your chest, bending your hips, thighs, and knees towards your chest. Meanwhile, your left foot remains straight, toes to the ground with its heel pointing upward.

2. Carefully jump to switch legs, maintaining arm position the entire time. Continue to alternate legs, deepening the stretch each time.

Speaking of mountains, have you signed up for a Post Grape-Nuts Fit “What’s Your Mountain?” Challenge yet? If not, head on over to PocketRanger.com and take the steps towards conquering your mountain!

June 14, 2013

Image: www.runawayguide.com

Long hikes can be a pain in the back, especially when lugging around a heavy pack and other essential gear. Rather than lightening your load and risk leaving your Post Grape-Nuts Fit snacks behind, try out this simple, yet effective, lower-back exercise to strengthen and lengthen those backpack-hauling muscles.

1. Start by assuming the following stance: stand with feet shoulder-width apart, your knees slightly bent, bending forward from the hips. Engage your upper body by squeezing your shoulder blades together and extending your arms behind you. At the same time push your butt back and your torso forward, holding this position for 20 seconds.

2. Keeping your back, butt, and legs in this same stance, raise your arms up over your head, reaching forward, about shoulder-width apart. Hold this position for 20 more seconds.

3. Still maintaining the same body position, bring your hands down so that your palms rest on your bent knees. Press firmly and hold for a final 20 seconds.

Try completing four sets of the entire three-part stretch four times a week for noticeable results.

Ready for the real challenge? Use your new-found strength to hike up to Mt. Nebo and earn 20 points towards the Post Grape-Nuts Fit “What’s Your Mountain?” Challenge for New Jersey State Parks. Sign up now at PocketRanger.com to accept this physical challenge and be in the running for great prizes!

 June 7, 2013

image: www.maketimetotime.tumblr.com/

image: www.maketimetotime.tumblr.com/

Why is this adorable dog laying on the ground? Obviously she hasn’t done enough of our Friday Fitness Tips to power her through the Post Grape-Nuts Fit “What’s Your Mountain?” Challenge! Here’s our tip for today:

Tone your abs and tush with the Glute Bridge. Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Feet should be hip-width apart. Gently flatten your lower back into the floor. Exhale and engage your abdominals as you lift your hips off the floor toward the ceiling. Avoid pushing your hips too high, which can hyperextend your lower back. Keep your abdominals strong. Inhale and slowly lower yourself back to your starting position. Repeat 10 times for 3 reps.

This easy exercise will keep your abs and glutes strong, which you can put to use when climbing the wildlife viewing tower at Georgia’s Cloudland Canyon State Park, just one of the many Geo-locations to explore throughout the country!

Sign up to play in your state at PocketRanger.com and get ready to conquer your mountain!

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