An NEO Winter: A Bird in the Hand, Snowshoes, and Ice – Lots of Ice

Cleveland Metroparks has plenty of parks to explore in winter, but our region's county parks have a lot going on, too. Start your tour in Geauga County, which has a full slate of outdoor (and free) activities this winter. ...
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Brain Game (Go Ahead, It’s Not that Hard)



What do these words have in common?  

Example: Snow, popsicles, wax melt


  1. Cards, porch, ship a deck
  2. Checks, baseball, emails bounce
  3. Clothes, paper, towels fold
  4. Safes, codes, walnuts crack
  5. Toy, car, door knob rattle
  6. Butterfly, flavor, situation delicate
  7. Meeting, mind, book open and close
  8. Superman, time, squirrel fly
  9. Nose, paint, faucet drip
  10. Maine, Georgia, Oregon border an ocean


Challenge your brain with a variety of activities.  

Start with a four- or five- letter word and spell it forward then backward. For example, clock would be kcolc.
When that becomes easier for you, try doing longer words. Another idea is to pair the letters of the alphabet from A to Z  with a corresponding number.
Start with A1, B2, etc. If that is too easy, try it in reverse: A26, B25, etc.


This puzzle and memory tip is provided by Kathryn Kilpatrick, a speech-language pathologist. She is available for Memory Fitness and Keep Your Brain Sharp programs and private consultations. Visit for more brain game resources.

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What’s Your Fitness Motivation?

Brace yourself. Nearly 50 percent of people who begin an exercise program drop out within the first six months, according to Rod K. Dishman, Ph.D., director of the Exercise Psychology Laboratory in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Georgia.

The question is, “Why?” What is it about sticking with a fitness routine that causes so many people abandon it?

Most people don’t want health and fitness badly enough. It is a simple fact of human psychology that if we want something badly enough, we’ll do everything we can to get it.

Your challenge is to find out what motivates you to get serious about fitness and stick with it.

Unlock your motivation

Bryan Reece was told by his doctors that he was minutes away from a heart attack. So Bryan decided to fight back. Even though he had not been in a gym in 30 years, he turned his life around and eventually became a finisher in the Arizona Ironman competition. You can read his story in the book, “You Are an Ironman: How Six Weekend Warriors Chased Their Dream of Finishing the World’s Toughest Triathlon,” by Jacques Steinberg.

You do not have to be part of that 50 percent of people who quit. You can stay committed and finish strong. It is all about finding what motivates you personally.

Here are some possible motivators:

  1. Do it for your health. Consistent exercise and healthy eating are the two very best things you can do for your health. You will develop a strong, healthy heart, reduce your chances of many cancers, prevent diabetes, keep a sharp mind and resist dementia, and avoid many of the common ailments that come with aging. It is possible to age without decay, and the key to this is exercise and eating well.
  2. Do it to look better.
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Take Your Coat Off and Enjoy the Winter Indoors

I’m suspicious of any activity that requires a signature on a liability waiver.

I’ve gone years, in fact, finding plenty of things to do that don’t require a waiver. I’m rethinking that. Northeast Ohio has had an indoor recreation boom recently, and the activities look like a lot of fun.

Trampolines, rope courses, climbing walls, indoor cycling. All are great winter-busting activities and don’t require layers of clothing and boots better than the ones I already own.

Here are a few places to try, either with some friends, alone (if you’re self-conscious) or with a grandkid or two.

Play: CLE is an indoor adventure park in Avon with the added bonus of serving both food and alcohol. It’s got a zip line, a rope course and a climbing wall.

Sky Zone in Boston Heights offers an indoor trampoline park with ladders, climbing walls and other activities.

Zip City in Streetsboro has an indoor zip line, a trampoline park, a ropes course, a Ninja course and two Ninja laser mazes.

Ray’s Mountain Bike Park in Cleveland is open October through April. Don’t have a mountain bike? Rent one there. The course is user-friendly for folks of all skill levels.

The Golf Dome in Chagrin Falls has an indoor driving range, mini golf and batting cages.

Get Air Cleveland in Middleburg Heights is just what it sounds like: a trampoline park with foam pits, trampoline walls and other indoor adventures.

Marie Elium fell off a mini-trampoline in middle school and hasn’t been on one since.





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Snowshoe for Free, Feed Birds in Geauga Parks This Winter

Sure, it's cold. And snowy. And by 7 p.m. you're ready for an evening of Netflix. But don't squander our limited daylight hours this winter. Head over to Geauga County's parks for outside fun and earn those binge-watching hours. ...
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Exercise with a Purpose


Strength Training

I’ve been at this game called “exercise” my entire adult life, and it is my ever-growing certainty that no matter the issue, no matter the benefit sought, no matter the disease to be addressed or the problem to be surmounted, strength training seems to be the answer.

Want to look better in your clothes (or out of them)? Want to address diabetes, hypertension, obesity and other diseases?

Are you about to enter into chemotherapy? Are you suffering from depression? In almost all of these situations, strength training is the most effective measure you can take on the road to good health. Numerous studies in recent years have proven this.

Get Started

When it comes to strength training, I have definite opinions on the best and most efficient way to perform it, but those opinions are not as strong as my belief that you should perform strength training in almost any form. Muscle has evolved over billions of years and is the most adaptive and plastic tissue in our body. As such, strength training can be incredibly simple, precisely because muscle is so complex.

There are many different ways to train, and skeletal muscle will adapt to them all. My only concern is when improper training techniques pose an injury risk. As training expert Arthur Jones once said, “It won’t matter if you have 20-inch arms if you injure your back.”

In the past 10 years, scientific literature has exploded with studies that uncover benefits to strength training that we never imagined. Much of this is linked to myokines, the hormone-like substances released by exercising muscle that benefit other body tissues.

Like my lifelong focus, most of this literature centers on the why of strength training. As the why becomes more accepted and obvious, the focus will begin to shift to the how.

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Move It. Gain Flexibility Regardless of Age

Many people exercise, and they do it for a variety of reasons.

Most tend to focus on cosmetic reasons, but the No. 1 thing that I’m interested in as an exercise professional is a functional ability — the ability to carry out everyday tasks with ease. You name it: walking, getting up from a chair, lifting, climbing stairs or participating in your favorite activities.

Senior Techniques

Those most affected by losses in functional ability are the elderly. However, with targeted strength training, they can see a rapid reversal of this condition.

Strength training stimulates skeletal muscular strengthening. All reasonable expectations from exercise are accessed through the skeletal muscles — the only window into the body — by strengthening them. Expectations should include:

  • Improvements in bone density and balance
  • Vascular and metabolic efficiency
  • Joint stability
  • Muscular strength
  • Cosmetics

The elderly are just as capable of performing productive exercise as anyone and stand to gain as much, if not more, from strength training.

Research has shown that exercise programs for elderly patients have a role in preventing illness and injury, limiting functional loss and disability, and alleviating the course and symptoms of existing cardiac, pulmonary, musculoskeletal and metabolic disorders.

Of course, exercise safety is paramount when discussing training programs for elderly populations.

It is crucial to abide by preliminary exercise considerations. Attempting to stimulate physical improvements would not be worthwhile if someone gets hurt doing it.

Strength Training 101 for the Elderly

  1. Choose only one to two days per week to do strength training. All of the “good stuff” happens while we recover from exercise, and this can take three to seven days. Recovery periods may need to be even longer as we age or become more advanced in our exercise performance.
  2. Choose the minimum number of exercises that produce the greatest effect.
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Rejuvenate Yourself

Get an Energy and Productivity Jumpstart

By Jeff Tomaszewski


Four hundred and thirty-eight million: That is the number of vacation days Americans failed to take last year, more than any other industrialized nation, according to Harris Interactive Research Group.

Here’s the result: America ranks first in both depression and mental health issues.

Americans are burned out. Our productivity and creativity are dropping, relationships are failing and our rising stress is leading to record levels of heart disease, stomach ulcers and depression.

All Work, No Play

We’re judged by how much we work. We’re afraid of being replaced or left behind, and we’re addicted to busyness. It’s not only destroying our mental and physical health but also our creative productivity.

This is especially true in our global economy, where our future lies with our ability to think creatively, innovatively and productively.

Rest and recovery are vital to looking and feeling your best. Unfortunately, it’s viewed as a weakness rather than as an integral aspect of growth and sustained performance.

We become flatliners mentally, emotionally and physically by endlessly spending sufficient energy without recovery. We slowly wear down and become ineffective.

Taking a break might be difficult for some of us. Consider these tips:

Reframe it: Instead of calling it time off and thinking we are slackers, reframe it as “rejuvenation time.” This sounds more purposeful and meaningful, doesn’t it? This might be mental manipulation, but we’ll take whatever works.


Schedule it: What gets scheduled gets done. Like any critical appointment, you have to plant your time-off flag on your calendar and defend it. Take a break from email. Put your phone and other electronic devices aside.


Declare it: Don’t feel guilty or try to keep it a secret. Lead by example and show others how to make rejuvenation part of an overall health plan.

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