Written by Rachel Torgerson, editorial intern
Melissa Arnot is a professional mountain climber, gracing the peaks of the most prestigious mountains (nabbing the women’s world record for her Everest ascent) and for two years in a row, she’s led celeb do-gooders up the slopes of Kilimanjaro with Summit on the Summit to raise awareness (and funds, naturally) for the Matt Damon-founded charity, Water.org, and the clean water crisis.
“There are more people in the world who can access a mobile phone than a toilet, says Chevenee Reavis, fellow Kili-climber and Director of Strategic Initiatives for Water.org. “It’s really an incredibly large challenge, but one that we actually have solutions for. We know how to deliver safe water and sanitation—it’s about raising awareness and beginning a movement around the cause.”
Among the celebs to face the climb this year were Justin Chatwin (War of the Worlds) and Beau Garrett (Tron: Legacy). “This group had never camped, never been without shower water. Then you add the altitude—19,340 feet is higher than anyone had been. At the end, everyone summited Kilimanjaro; a testament to the passion these people have for educating themselves and other people,” says Arnot.
Want to scale the slopes, too? We asked Arnot how to train and what to expect on the mountainside.
A few weeks ago I got the chance to stash my Brooks running sneakers for some hiking shoes as I headed West to the Jenny Lake Lodge nestled in the Grand Teton National Park in Jackson, Wyoming. As a self-professed cardio queen, I was excited to tackle mountains instead of asphalt for four days of trekking. And trek we did! With tons of hiking trails ranging from 2 miles to 19 I definitely got a glimpse into what life in the mountains is really like.
After arriving in the afternoon, I got a chance to meet with some of the super friendly staffers that work for the Grand Teton Lodging Company. We took a short hike (though as my first hike ever, it felt like it lasted days!) around String Lake, with sights that looked like they fell right off a postcard. I was a bit panicked starting out, as one of my hiking materials was an actual can of bear spray (!) but within minutes I was too busy checking out the view to worry about anything else. This may explain why the above-mentioned staffers are so friendly. It’s hard to be in a bad mood when you’re looking at this every day:
Written by Deanna Cioppa, editorial intern
For most of Hollywood, taking care of your body is part of your job as an on-screen presence. For Keesha Sharp, it’s a passion and a calling. Sharp stars as Gigi, a serial dater offering insights from the singles’ scene in the TV series Are We There Yet, which is based on the 2005 film of the same name and launches today in syndication. When not entertaining us on the small screen, Sharp runs her own health and wellness site, Fishers of Health, which tackles everything from natural makeup and skincare to nutrition, fitness and spirituality.
“My goal is to inform people about their health,” Sharp says. “To be the best you can be, you need to be healthy.” And that includes mental and physical health, she notes. A voracious reader and researcher when it comes to health topics, Sharp often buys multiple copies of books she likes to give away to family and friends.
We sat down with this health-conscious actress to find out more about Fishers of Health and what she does to keep her health in tip-top shape.
There’s a lot of research on the Fishers of Health website. Do you do all the research yourself?
I do! I’ve considered becoming a certified nutritionist, too. Not necessarily to follow it as a career path, but more so because people know you’re qualified to give them advice when they see your credentials.
What topics interest you most?
I want to venture out to both sides of Eastern and Western medicine. I don’t think you have to immediately go to Western medicine practices first; there are alternatives you can try if you’d like. More so than anything, though, I think changing your diet can improve or change your health.
How do you avoid fads?
Here’s advice you don’t often hear from us at FITNESS: skip the gym. That’s right, we’re giving you permission to erase your name from the treadmill list or take a day off from your exercise class because this Saturday is National Get Outdoors Day!
As part of Let’s Move Outside, included in First Lady Michelle Obama’s health intiative, Saturday, June 9 has been designated as a day to promote healthy activities in the great outdoors. One of our favorite nature-filled ways to stay fit? Hiking! Not only will the average 140-pound woman burn 384 calories on the trails, but she’ll also tone her lower body and will be able to take in some breathtaking views and fresh air.
For Get Outdoors Day, you can try hiking out yourself and explore your national parks for free this Saturday (learn more about fee-free day here). Before you go, download the Happy Trails guide—which is also free—to find 25 can’t-miss hikes across the country. Maybe you can check one off your list this weekend!
If you enjoy yourself and want to support these beautiful parks, click here to find out how to do so. And for more about hiking, don’t miss our July/August issue, which hits newsstands on June 26!
Now tell us: What are your favorite ways to exercise outside?
More from FITNESS:
- Slim Without the Gym: Sculpting Moves for Your Fitness Type
- Cool New Hiking and Running Sneakers
- How Do I Avoid Altitude Sickness When I Hike?
Written by Theresa K. Brady, editorial intern
On Sunday, July 31, history was made on the Appalachian Trail. Jennifer Davis is now the fastest person ever to complete the 2,181-mile hike, finishing in 46 days, 11 hours and 20 minutes—and we thought spin class was rough! (Andrew Thompson was the previous record holder, completing the trek in 47 days, 13 hours and 31 minutes.) We caught up with Davis after she stepped off the trail to hear more about her values, her family and the hike that changed her life.
Five lessons she learned along the path:
Step off the grid. “Once the adjustment is made, it becomes really nice to unplug,” Davis says. “The trail is your home. You can’t think about your warm bed or nice shower.” But how do you live without cell service? Davis enjoys being disconnected from her phone, social media and the constant stimulation of modern life.
Allow yourself to recover. Walking and running all day for weeks takes a toll on your body. “You have to allow your body to rest,” she suggests. The length and rigor of your hike will determine how long you will need to recover. After this hike, Davis will be taking it easy for a while. “I will be doing very light physical activity for the next six months.”
Find energy in food. While on the trail, Davis was burning 6,000 to 7,000 calories a day, or the equivalent of 11 to 13 Big Macs! “It’s hard to chew as much food as you need to take in,” she says. While on the trail, Davis munched on energy bars and energy chews, but really looked forward to the occasional evening treat. “My husband was so supportive. Sometimes he’d bring me a high-calorie dinner from a nearby town,” Davis says (most days she ate freeze-dried camping dinners). What a guy!
Value simplicity. “We feel like we need all these ‘things,’ but the trail teaches you to be content with what’s in your backpack,” Davis says. She also found that it was easier to build quality relationships with the other hikers without technology and all the distractions of everyday life. “It’s a skill I try to carry over into everyday life.”
Focus on family. Davis is onto her next adventure: children. “We really want to focus on family,” she says. Does she plan on teaching her children to hike? Absolutely! “That’s the best part about trails. You can set a speed record or take a toddler out there. It’s perfect for anyone.”
Check out Jennifer’s website to read more about her hike or to check out pictures from her trek.
More from FITNESS: Blaze your own trail with our must-have hiking gear.
In a post a few weeks ago about The #1 Predictor of a Happy Marriage, you saw how one FITNESS editor got a fabulous new point of view from demanding hike. But you can still get the health benefits of hiking–or trail running!–on tamer paths, too. Spark People gives offers seven good reasons to put on your trail shoes and get closer to nature this weekend…
1. Burn More Calories
Whenever you change up your workout routine, you will challenge your muscles in new ways and burn more calories. The changes in terrain of a trail will cause you to recruit more muscle fibers to balance and find your footing. And many trails are embedded with inclines, steps, bridges, stones, downed tree trunks, puddles, creeks—all sorts of obstacles you need to navigate, which means you’ll burn 10% more calories than walking or running on a flat surface.
2. Protect Your Joints
One good thing about walking or running on a hard surface is that it can help encourage the development of strong bones. But for anyone with existing joint problems or previous joint injuries, all that pounding on a hard surface can really give your body a beating. That’s why trails are a great alternative. Grass and dirt are far softer than cement and blacktop, making walking or running on a trail much easier on your joints.
3. Stay Cool
As the mercury rises, sometimes it is just too hot and sunny to work out comfortably when you’re outside. Instead of letting the heat stop you, hit the trail. It’s noticeably cooler in the shady environment surrounded by towering trees that provide cover from the intense sun.
4. Breathe Easier
Even if you can’t always see it, there is pollution all around us, and you breathe it in when you walk or run next to a road traveled by vehicles. Not cool. One study found that exercising too close to traffic can actually increase your risk of cardiovascular disease because of the inhalation of pollution. So whenever you can, get away from high-trafficked roads. The trail is perfect for that!
5. Beat Boredom
Tired of the same old routine? There is so much beauty and interest in the natural world that you may find the minutes fly by as you look at the trees, animals, birds, and other plants along your trail.
6. Lift Your Spirits
More and more research shows that spending time in nature isn’t just fun—it’s essential for our well-being. Getting away from the hustle and bustle, basking in the sun, slowing down and smelling the roses: It can help us reduce stress, ward off depression, get our daily dose of vitamin D, and generally feel healthier.
7. Bond with Your Buds (or Your Kids)
Going for a hike is a great way to hang out with your friends and do something active. Trail hiking is great for pets and kids, too. They’ll have a blast exploring the plants, insects and animals they see. It’s a family-friendly activity you can add to your “fun” list that gets everyone active!
More from Spark People:
- 10 Things to Take on a Hike
- Precautions You Must Take When Exercising Outdoors
- The Proven Weight-Loss Program that Isn’t a Diet