A Century of Celebrating America’s Beauty

Enjoy our nation’s wonder by camping at a National Park.
 
This upcoming August 25th marks the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the National Park Service, an organization devoted to maintaining our nation’s natural splendor. The idea of conserving and enjoying natural spaces is actually even older. An Act signed by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1872 established Yellowstone as our nation’s first national park and the first national park in the world. Last year, over 307 million people visited a national park. From battlefields to recreation areas, scenic waterways and trails, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. And there’s no better way to experience all the splendor that a national park has to offer than camping. So consider pitching a tent at any of the following national parks this summer.
 
Michigan/Ohio/Pennsylvania
 
There’s something for everyone at the River Raisin National Battlefield Park. Camping, historic sites, wildlife watching and kayaking are available at this national park in Monroe, Michigan. The site was the scene of a major battle in the War of 1812. The loss by the United States’ forces here was a major turning point in our eventual victory. The trail provides visitors with an outstanding opportunity to step back in time and experience the marshes and wetlands that the early French settlers first explored.
 
Head north to Upper Michigan and explore Isle Royale National Park. This island park in Lake Superior offers canoeing, kayaking, fishing and scuba diving adventures. Backpacking and camping are especially popular, with 36 campgrounds located across the island. Campsites are accessible only by foot or watercraft. Typically, campers backpack from one campground to another, traveling six to eight miles per day. Several campgrounds on the Lake Superior shoreline have docks for power and sail boaters. Other campgrounds, located inland, are only accessible by non-motorized boats such as canoes and kayaks. For those who enjoy tranquility, you must check out this park.
 
Illinois/Indiana/Minnesota/Wisconsin
 
Just as rugged and just as awe-inspiring is Voyageurs National Park in International Falls, Minnesota. It was established in 1975 and named after the fur traders, called voyageurs (voyagers or travelers) who paddled the waterways over 200 years ago. Here you can see and touch rocks half as old as the world, experience the life of a voyageur, immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of a boreal forest, view the dark skies right from your campsite, or ply the interconnected water routes. With one-third of the parks 215,000-plus acres consisting of water, be sure to take in one of the two boat tours available June through September.
 
Kentucky/Maryland/Virginia/West Virginia
 
Explore the world’s longest known cave system (over 400 miles of caves have been explored so far) at Mammoth Cave National Park in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky. Cave tours have been offered since 1816, which makes Mammoth Cave one of the oldest tour attractions in North America. Mammoth Cave offers a number of tours of various duration and physical ability; be sure to pick one that suits you and all of your family members. Dress accordingly, since even on the hottest August days a sweatshirt or jacket is recommended within the cave. In addition to cave tours, hiking, camping, horseback riding, fishing and kayaking are available.
 
North Carolina/Tennessee
 
Situated on the border between North Carolina and Tennessee is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, America’s most visited national park. It offers an unparalleled diversity of plant and animal life. Part of the Appalachian mountain chain, the “Smokies” get their name from the fog that tends to hang over the mountains in the morning and after rains. In addition to the natural beauty of these ancient mountains, this park offers views of Southern Appalachian mountain culture. One of the most popular destinations within the park is Cades Cove. It offers some of the best opportunities for wildlife viewing in the park. Large numbers of white-tailed deer are frequently seen and sightings of black bear, coyote, ground hog, turkey, raccoon, skunk, and other animals are also possible.
In addition to camping, plenty of other activities are available, including biking, hiking, fishing and horse riding. Thanks to its’ ample rainfall and elevation gradient, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an ideal destination for those who want to experience waterfalls. Over 100 prominent ones are featured within the park.
 
Kansas/Nebraska/Oklahoma/South Dakota
 
The rugged beauty of the Badlands National Park in South Dakota draws visitors from around the world. These striking geologic deposits contain one of the world’s richest fossil beds. Take in the 45-minute geology walk, visit the paleontology lab or attend the fossil talk to learn more about the ancient mammals––such as the rhino, horse, and saber-toothed cat––that once roamed here. Today, bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs and black-footed ferrets reside within the park’s 244,000 acres. Have your cameras ready to capture their majestic beauty. For those who have never truly experienced the magnificence of the night sky, be sure to take in the Night Sky Program. It offers views of more than 7,500 stars and clear views of our Milky Way.
 
Every state in our nation offers a national treasure, be it a wilderness area, historical monument, trail or recreation area, with many offering onsite camping. The list is much too long to include in any article, so please visit www.nps.gov for more information and discover for yourself why we call it America the Beautiful.
 
-Happy Camper
 
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Belly Fat Risks

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Recent news on belly fat reminds us that there are more reasons to get in shape than appearance! A new international study found that men and women with larger waists are more likely to die younger from a wide array of illnesses such as heart disease, respiratory problems, and cancer. The study was managed by a Mayo Clinic researcher and is published in the March edition of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
 
The researchers pooled data from 11 different studies that included more than 600,000 people from around the world. They concluded that men with waists 43 inches or greater in circumference have a 50 percent higher mortality risk than men with waists less than 35 inches, while women with waist circumferences of 37 inches or greater have an approximately 80 percent higher mortality risk than women with waist circumference2 of 27 inches or less. They also found that this risk increased 7 percent in men and about 9 percent in women for every 2 inches of greater circumference, even among people who had normal body mass index levels.
 
Men tend to have more belly fat than women from an earlier age, which may be why men have more coronary disease than women. After menopause, women’s fat settles in the belly and increases the risk of death from heart disease and breast, uterine, cervical, colon and kidney cancers!
 
Why does belly fat have such a great impact on your health? The fat you see on your stomach indicates the development of deep visceral belly fat — the fat that grows close to organs such as your kidneys and liver. This is why when you develop belly fat, you want to concentrate on full-body weight loss and include exercises that tone and tighten your abs.
 
Here are three pointers that will slim down that waist and help get rid of the that dangerous visceral fat.
 
• Maintain a healthy, balanced nutrition regimen. Drop the processed food, refined baked goods and sweets and focus on fruit, vegetables, nuts, lean meats, fish, whole grains and beans. Remember, healthy fats not only lower cholesterol and prevent food cravings, they also increase fat burning. Olive oil, flaxseed oil and avocados help prevent insulin spikes. Sesame, sunflower and safflower oil are thought to have significant fat-burning qualities.
 
• Good nutrition is a vital part of getting rid of that belly fat… as is physical activity, which leads to an even greater percentage of loss of the visceral, intra-abdominal fat. Cardiovascular workouts will help burn the fat. Start with 20 to 30 minutes three days a week on nonconsecutive days, then work towards longer and higher intensity workouts.
 
• Weight training helps build active muscle mass. Like cardio training, start with 20 to 30 minute workouts three days a week and and aim towards higher intensity and longer workouts. Do your weight training on the days you’re NOT doing your cardio workouts.
 
You’ll look better and live longer!
 
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Understanding the Core

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Many of us embark on new exercise programs in the spring. We embrace fitness programs with specific goals in mind, from overall health, strength training, leaner, shaped abdominals, or a slimmer silhouette. An important thing to remember is that whatever your focus in training, core exercises that strengthen the torso and abdomen are a vital complement to your strength or aerobic regimen.
 
Core exercises offer what is called ‘static and dynamic stability.’ Static stability refers to posture and balance,while dynamic stability refers to flexibility, strength, endurance and cardio-vascular. So what are the benefits of including the core in your workouts?
 
Core exercises train the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen to work in harmony, leading to better balance and stability on the playing field and in common daily activities.
 
• If you’re looking for more defined abdominal muscles, core exercises are important. Aerobic activity burns abdominal fat, core exercises strengthen and tone the underlying muscles.
 
• Strong core muscles make it easier to do everything from swinging a baseball bat, to dusting the shelves or climbing stairs. They strengthen you against poor posture, lower back pain and muscle injuries.
 
• Aerobic exercise and muscular fitness are the primary elements of most fitness programs. Including core exercises completes a well-rounded fitness program that will help you reach your fitness goals.
 
• You don’t have to go to the gym to do core exercises. Do them on the floor at home while you’re watching your favorite show, or pull out the balance discs anywhere in the home!
 
Some tips to keep in mind:
 
• Choose exercises that work all of your core muscles simultaneously.
• Concentrate on the quality of the movement, form and technique over quantity.
• Be mindful of your breathing.
• When you need a break, take one!
• Remember, always talk to a medical expert before starting a new exercise regimen.
 
Core exercises: strength from the center!
 
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Fitness During the Changing Seasons

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
The changing seasons can wreak havoc on your work out routine. The milder weather draws us outside for walks, biking, or running, but that can be interrupted by a rainy day. The heat can seem insurmountable, making it harder to get started, or surprisingly chilly — so try having some alternative options in mind.
 
Keep these basic ideas in mind when designing your fitness routine.
 
• Own Your Goals: Allow your goals to change as you progress. Break them down into smaller goalposts. Use the SMART method: Make them Specific (what and how), Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely (set an achievable date!).
 
• Consider the Weather: Wear UV-protective sunglasses and a hat when it’s sunny. Dress in light colors to reflect the sun’ rays. Take a water bottle. If heat or stormy weather cancels your outdoor workout, try interval walking at the mall. On hot days, head to your local community pool and swim some laps! Remember, this time of year the weather changes daily, sometimes hourly! So be prepared!
 
• Try the Buddy System: It can be difficult to start a new routine by yourself, so consider elisting a friend to help you get into your workout routine.
 
• Make New Routines: No routine can block commitment and progress, but don’t be afraid to change once in a while if the one you have no longer works for you. Sometimes you may want to spice it up with new workouts or trade in one walk a week for an aerobics class at your local community center.
 
• Be Kind to Yourself: If you do miss a couple of days of exercise, just start up again as soon as possible.
 
• Track Your Progress: Journal your workouts. Make yourself accountable to yourself and your fitness schedule. Keeping track of the calories you burn gives you that sense immediate accomplishment that can spur you on.
 
A new rule here at Peter’s Principles, and one to pay serious attention to is: If your use a headset and are walking or running … keep the volume down! Be sure you can hear the traffic and remain aware of your surroundings.
 
Remember the saying, “Fitness is not a destination, it is a way of life!”
 
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A Season For Renewal

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
Winter may try to hold on, but spring has finally arrived! We can put away our heavy winter clothes and embrace the lush, green growth of trees and gardens , and the warming air that greets us each morning. Neighbors we haven’t seen all winter will be out working in their yards, walking or jogging, and soon fresh spring produce will arrive at the grocer’s. It’s a great time of year to renew your health resolutions or make a new commitment to a healthy life!
 
After long months spent indoors, it can be a big challenge to adopt a major fitness program, especially if you have a busy schedule. Ease into it!
 
• Choose an activity you will enjoy!
 
• If your schedule makes it difficult to set aside a 30 minute block of time, try three 10-minute workouts or walks.
 
• Walk or bike to work or to the local store.
 
• Wear a pedometer to keep track of the number of steps you take and and set a goal to increase the amount you walk. A Harvard study found that taking six thousand steps a day is correlated with a lower death rate in men.
 
• Park your car a distance from your destination and walk.
 
• Use stairs instead of the elevator.
 
• Take a walk at lunch with coworkers.
 
• Join an office or community sports league.
 
If you’re hungry when you get home from your fitness outing, try a handful of nuts! A study from Loma Linda University found that participants eating a diet that has majority of fat coming from almonds resulted in significantly higher loss of body and abdominal fat in 24 weeks than participants who ate the same amount of calories with more carbs and less fat. Other nuts to add to your diet include Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts and walnuts.
 
You’ll probably be thirsty too! Drink plenty of water; researchers in Germany found that drinking two cups of cold water can boost metabolic rate by 30 percent! If you have a taste for something different try green tea, its primary ingredient – epigallocatechin gallate – reduces the effect of the enzyme that normally breaks down norepinephrine. That keeps the metabolic rate up, and you burn more calories throughout the day. Black tea also aids fat loss. A study conducted by University College in London found that drinking black tea regularly can reduce levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that encourages fat storage around the midsection.
 
Make physical activity a regular part of your day and you’ll begin to notice some positive changes, whether it’s weight loss, a smaller waist or a new, fuller sense of well-being.
 
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