Tag Archives: Fitness

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6 soccer drills to teach players to improve their agility

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For soccer players, agility is a vital characteristic, almost equal to speed and strength. Developing better agility is not that difficult and does not require a lot of workout tools. We’ve put together our favorite six drills to improve soccer agility.

1. Jump Rope

As basic as it sounds, the age-old workout of jumping rope will do wonders for your agility.

For starters, it works your leg and ankle muscles primarily, which are the most important groups for soccer players. Simultaneously, you get a great cardio workout. Beyond that, jumping rope is a basic form of plyometrics, which are vital to creating agility.

Begin by focusing your efforts on getting good at the standard act of jumping rope (and not tripping over yourself). With a little practice, you should find it easy to get into a routine of several minutes or longer without messing up.

Move to jumping one-footed and rotate back and forth from foot to foot. Introduce side to side hoping for better lateral movement, and finish with hoping while twisting your hips.

Depending on how fast you move the rope, 2-3 minute intervals will work great. Rotate through these various types of rope jumping and stack several sets once you build your stamina.

2. Running Lines

Another simple exercise, running lines is often reserved as punishment for poor performance on a team, but is actually a great agility builder.

Run in 10-yard intervals, building up to the furthest distance you can go. Begin on the starting line, run 10 yards forward, and sharply cut back to the starting line. Continue this process, moving the next sprint to 20 yards from the starting line.

If possible, do this exercise outdoors on a football field with yard lines marked for you. Use your game pair of soccer shoes, as it will help you break them in and get used to cutting in cleats.

3. Squat Jumps

The squat jump is a true plyometric workout, and great for improving explosiveness as you move towards the ball. This jump focuses on a lot of the lower body muscles, while also incorporating the stomach and lower back muscles.

Bend your knees and move your body down into the full squat position. In one fluid motion, jump as high as you can, bringing your knees to your chest simultaneously. This isn’t a casual jump – you want to explode your body as high as you can.

Be careful to control your body as you land, as there is a risk that you’ll turn an ankle if you aren’t careful. Repeat this as many times as you can, building up your intervals and sets.

4. Agility Ladder

Our first drill that requires any extra equipment, an agility ladder is pretty basic, cheap, and easy to find.

Start by just working your way through the agility ladder as fast as you can. Once you perfect this, introduce more difficult techniques, such as high knees, double foot tap between each rung, and lateral hopping through each rung gap.

5. Cone Shuffle

Grab 4-6 cones and set up a mini-shuffle course for you to perform. You’ll want to create a diamond pattern. One cone at the top and bottom of the diamond will serve as the starting and ending point. The other 2-4 cones will go in the middle of the diamond.

Space the start and finish cones around 10 yards apart, with the middle cones several yards from each other. Sprint from the starting point to the first cone on the left, weaving your body throughout the middle cones. After you reach the cone on the far right, sprint to the finish cone.

Once you’ve mastered this, spread the cones further apart or increase the number of intervals and sets.

6. HIIT Interval Stairs

While you could jump on a stairmaster at your local gym, this is just as easy to perform at your local high school stadium bleachers. The key here is to sprint up and down the stairs in intervals, which changes the pace on your body.

Interval training is a wonderful way to increase stamina and agility in a very short period of time. Alternate your speed, while also alternating how far up the stairs you travel.

Conclusion

With these drills, you’ll be well on your way to improving your agility. The best part is that each of these drills requires minimal workout gear (if any) and not a lot of time.

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Teaching and coaching in a multigenerational setting

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I retired from coaching in 2012 after 36 years on the sideline coaching high school football, and in 2017, I retired from teaching. In order to stay busy, I decided to do some substitute teaching and agreed to join the varsity coaching staff at a local high school.

During my time away from football, I saw many changes in the high school game. Some of these changes came in the form of administrative directives and legislative mandates that were enacted in response to growing safety concerns related to on-field concussions.

Those changes were accompanied by a decrease in the number of students participating in football. This drop in participation has resulted in the disappearance of many freshman teams in our area, and it has also contributed to smaller roster sizes on the varsity and junior varsity levels.

During this time, I also started to see a drop in student attendance at varsity games and a concomitant decrease in general student enthusiasm. Although some of this can be attributed to concussion concerns, it has become obvious to me that there are other factors contributing to this transformation in high school football.

First, it is important to mention that these changes are more pronounced in certain areas of the country than they are in others. Many programs have high participation rates and continue to field teams on all levels, but if high school football is going to continue to flourish on a national level it is important that educators and coaches nationwide make a joint effort to address these changes.

A drop in student attendance is not just a concern for high schools. It is also a concern that has surfaced at the collegiate level. For the last few years there has been a growing national trend in decreased student attendance at football games, and in recent seasons, Alabama coach Nick Saban has commented about declines in student attendance and a general lack of student enthusiasm at home games.

These changes in high school football are driven in part by a multigenerational group dynamic that requires an understanding of the characteristics associated with Generation Z (also known as the “iGeneration”). Although there are no standard definitions for when a generation begins and ends, this group encompasses a time period that spans about 17 years. The oldest members would now be in their early 20s.

Some of the important events that impacted their lives included the Great Recession, home foreclosures, the student loan crisis, different wars and school shootings. They don’t remember a time before social media, and most things occur online. They are both tech-savvy and tech-dependent.

My observations in the classroom are that they want to make a difference in the world, and are generally very open-minded, respectful and tolerant of others. They are also highly educated, but this characteristic has come at a price.

Soon after the onset of the 21st century, I started to notice a few visible changes in student behavior both on and off the field. Students appeared to be more stressed by anything that was medical related.

An occurrence that became more noticeable to me was that some of my players were starting to cry when they suffered an injury on the field. Even a common injury like a sprained ankle would sometimes elicit this emotional response.

Over time, I started to see more professional athletes also crying when they suffered on the field injuries. An additional change that has become a national concern for educators is the sharp increase in the percentage of teenagers who suffer from depression, anxiety and other mental health issues.

As coaches and educators, we need to be aware of the possible causes for this change in our student-athletes’ behavioral profile, and we need to explore ways to better address their needs. Research indicates that more than half of all mental illnesses appear between the ages of 14 and 21.

We also know that the brain’s ability to adapt to change is really remarkable, and this continues even through the ages of 25 and 30. Coaches and educators must appreciate the fact that adolescence is an ideal time to identify opportunities for making positive changes. Schools should continue to work with healthcare professionals to formulate intervention plans that will positively impact behavior changes and learning.

Another growing concern is the youth suicide rate. Since 1980, suicide rates have increased nearly 130 percent in youth 10 to 14 years old, and, on average, over 5,000 middle and high school-aged youth attempt to die by suicide every day.

Our daily contact with students places us in a position to immediately take action when warning signs associated with suicide surface. Research indicates that nearly 80 percent of people who die by suicide gave some warning signs of their intentions.

One of the changes that often goes unmentioned in educator training courses is the transformation in traditional families in our country today. Statistics indicate that only about 46 percent of children are now living in households with two parents in their first marriage, but I have seen statistics that cite an even lower percentage.

There are many single moms and dads who do a tremendous job raising their children. There are also many grandparents, older siblings, and relatives who likewise provide adequate parenting for many children, but the fact remains that there is a big parenting void that exists in our country today.

This void is often filled through internet access and social media. Unfortunately, much of what we find in this domain can negatively impact adolescent mental health, and often hinders the development of our students’ emotional and moral intelligence.

This fact, coupled with the increase in social isolation and the increase in teenage mental disorders, has played a major role in what we are now experiencing with our youth today. As such, we shouldn’t discount the important role that teachers and coaches play in this context. Educators now fill this parenting void in much larger percentages than ever before.

When I hear people comment that athletics is not an important part of education or call for the curtailment or elimination of certain sports for financial or “safety” reasons, I simply ask the question, “Who are these kids going to turn to for guidance?”

Those who are part of a traditional family will continue to rely on both parents, but those who aren’t as fortunate will be pushed into a higher risk category of children who are relying on the internet and social media for parental guidance. Increased social isolation must also be factored into this dynamic.

Professor Jean Twenge at San Diego State University has done some pioneering research into smartphone use by the iGeneration and writes in The Atlantic that “It’s not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental crisis in decades.” She notes that this generation of children spends more time on their phone, in their room, alone and often distressed.

I was recently speaking to one of my former players who is now an assistant football coach at a Power Five conference school, and he told me that in his 30 years of coaching he has never had an easier time supervising his players. He said his players were very easy to coach, worked hard on the field and did everything asked of them in the weight room and in meetings.

He added that once they left the training complex, they generally stayed in their rooms and weren’t socializing as much as prior generations. My brother was a California parole officer for many years, and he made an interesting comment to me.

I asked him why statistics are showing that there is less juvenile crime now than there was in prior years. Statistics from 2017 show that law enforcement agencies made 59% fewer juvenile arrests than they did in 2008. He pointed out to me that kids are not hanging around as much in public places like they did in the past. I decided to visit places in the neighborhood where we grew up, and he was absolutely right.

The students that are coming through our school doors today have distinct learning styles, and many of them are not as interested in things that prior generations enjoyed. After the Super Bowl was played this year, I substituted at a local high school, and their teacher left an assignment that instructed the students to write a Spanish language commentary on the game.

I polled the students in two classes, and out of 51 total students, only 12 watched the Super Bowl. These results surprised me, and I went on to ask how many of them attended their school’s varsity football games. Only four said they went to a game.

These results call for a further investigation into the multi-generational setting that we now work and coach in. As a teacher I have come to realize that about two-thirds of the students that I now come in contact with are visual or kinesthetic learners.

The days of standing in front of a room and lecturing for 50 minutes are part of the distant past. Coaching is no different. I was recently speaking with a local reporter who asked me why I thought a veteran offensive coordinator had been fired by an NFL team in midseason last year.

I told the reporter that his dismissal might have been related to his teaching style. This coach is very knowledgeable, and I knew his mastery of the X’s and O’s was not a problem. The reporter told me that this was interesting because the new coordinator, who was younger, immediately decreased classroom meeting time in order to spend more time instructing the players on the field.

In this multigenerational educational and coaching setting, one must remember that all generations bring something that is of value to the classroom and the field. The Traditionalist Generation brought decisive leadership, loyalty, dedication and commitment to the workplace. These are characteristics that will always be important.

The baby boomers have a strong work ethic and bring mentorship to the workplace. They look for respect and work hard to secure it. Generation X is independent, innovative and are risk-takers. They are goal oriented, think outside the box and want to manage their own time. Millennials are confident, upbeat, full of self-esteem and willing to accept change. They are also very tolerant towards multiculturalism and internationalism.

As educators and coaches, we need to provide psychological classroom and workplace safety for all the individuals we work with. We must communicate clear expectations regarding the work to be performed, and we also need to examine and promote the team’s organizational strategy. Creating and maintaining an inclusive learning environment is also important.

Finally, we need to look for ways to encourage the iGeneration to become involved in more group activities, and this includes football. E-sports are here to stay, and school teams and leagues are being organized nationwide.

“Exergaming,” the use of video games for physical activity, is one of many emerging innovative disciplines that are making their way into the 21st century classroom. High school coaches and athletic administrators should discover ways to tap this talent pool.

Perhaps we should look for multisport student-athletes who will compete in e-sport competitions on Thursday, and on Friday night take the field against these same opponents in the traditional football game.

We need follow the lead of our Generation X colleagues and start thinking outside the box. The athletic and coaching landscape in our schools is rapidly changing-not only in how we work, but also with whom we work. Chris Morris, a CNBC writer specializing in video games and consumer electronics, once said: “It is sometimes easy to forget that the king of the hill isn’t a permanent positon, and companies that seem invincible might not be around forever in their current form — or, in some cases, in any form.”

Morris reminds us that icons fall, and this could happen to high school football if we fail to heed the warning signs.

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5 easy ways to boost your heart health

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Making positive changes to help your cardiovascular system doesn’t necessarily always mean grueling exercise and eating even more kale.

Sometimes, the simplest moves are just the ticket for seeing meaningful improvements in your numbers. Try the following tricks:

Get real with your Fitbit.

USC researchers report that when asked how much exercise they get on a daily basis, people rarely answer accurately. Americans typically rate themselves as very active, for example, when as high as 60 percent of that subject group were proven to be inactive through fitness tracking devices.

The moral of this story: your Fitbit doesn’t lie. Pay attention to your actual mileage logged if you monitor steps throughout your workday, and move more if you need to.

Skip the drive-thru on your way home from work.

A study from the Medical College of Georgia at Augustafound that drinking just one milkshake made with whole milk, ice cream and whipped cream was enough to turn healthy red blood cells into spiky cells, which are a key risk for a cardiovascular event like a heart attack.

What’s more, the risk to your heart after consuming a high-fat drink or food lasts for a full four hours, causing an immune response in your body that’s similar to an infection. The researchers think this could explain rare reports of sudden death after people with heart disease eat a single high-fat meal.

The take-home: an occasional rich treat is probably OK, but don’t make a habit of taxing your heart by eating this way all the time.

Don’t break your daily diet into small portions.

It’s previously been thought that eating six small meals plus two snacks was a great way to lose weight, but researchers at Tel Aviv University now recommend eating on the following schedule: a big breakfast, an average lunch, a small dinner, and no snacking at all.

Their research concluded that this new eating schedule controlled hunger better than more frequent eating, and provided better glucose control and balance — participants during the duration of their study dropped 11 pounds as opposed to 3 pounds dropped by those eating six meals a day. Health improvements happened after only two weeks on the new schedule, too.

Listen to music after you take your blood pressure meds.

Research finds that classical music in particular lowers your heart rate, reduces arterial pressure and positively activates your body’s parasympathetic system — all of which helps your body absorb the medication better. Using Beethoven as your office soundtrack might just create the calming environment you need overall to do your best work, too — give it a try!

Be optimistic.

Research from the American College of Cardiology found that positive thinkers have a great chance of improving their heart health, because optimism allows you to better and more enthusiastically plan a healthy diet, make time for exercise, and reject stress. Practice seeing the glass half full — it will not only help your heart, but open up new possibilities in your work life as well!

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Palm Beach Atlantic’s Tracy Peyton named 2019 Ron Balicki Scholarship recipient

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Tracy Peyton, a senior at Palm Beach Atlantic University, is the recipient of the 2019 Ron Balicki Scholarship,awarded by the Ron Balicki Scholarship Foundation. This scholarship was established to celebrate the legacy of Balicki, the Hall of Fame college and amateur golf writer from Golfweek.

Balicki wrote about the college and amateur game for more than 30 years, delivering stories not only about the players who would become the PGA Tour’s stars of tomorrow but stories about amateurs of all talent levels who simply loved to compete.

Peyton’s golf career began when she was 9 years old. Her parents wanted her to play sports from a young age to instill values that she could carry with her for life. She tried lacrosse, soccer and basketball but to no avail. Peyton’s father introduced her to golf, a game he has played his whole life. Almost immediately, she showed both talent and passion for the game.

Peyton traded her lacrosse stick in for a set of clubs for good in middle school. Over the summer she would play in small tournaments and participate in junior clinics at The Links, a facility of three nine-hole courses near her hometown of Boynton Beach, Florida.

One of Peyton’s fondest memories is getting her first hole-in-one. She was playing in a junior tournament at her home course, Okeeheelee Golf Course. The 120-yard Par 3 featured a creek short right, a sand trap in front of the green, and is surrounded by trees.

“I thinned it,” Peyton said through a laugh.

She didn’t follow it all the way, thinking she should just start marching toward the trees behind the green. She heard it hit the pin but thought it just ricocheted into the woods instead of going in the hole. As Peyton searched for her ball in the woods, she decided to check the cup just in case a miracle happened.

“It was the worst shot in my life, but it turned out great!”

Peyton’s golf career only went up from there. She made the Park Vista High School golf team her freshman year. Her team qualified for the State Championship her Freshman and Sophomore year at Park Vista. Her father was her No. 2 fan.

“My dad loves watching me play,” Peyton said.

It didn’t take long for her dad to realize that all Peyton needed was a short game.

“I couldn’t get up and down to save my life!” Peyton remembered.

Sure enough, Peyton and her father got her short game cleaned up. She wanted to play golf but didn’t want it to take away from her education. It turned out that the best school for her was just down the street. Palm Beach Atlantic gave Peyton an opportunity to combine her two passions while giving her best effort both on and off the course.

“I ended up going to the closest school to my house but it turned out to be a great school.” Peyton said.

Peyton was a member of the Palm Beach Atlantic women’s golf team before becoming editor-in-chief of the university’s student newspaper.

Peyton was the first scholarship athlete recruited by Palm Beach Atlantic to start their women’s golf program.

“Coach Watson made me feel like I was going to make a big difference on the team.” Peyton said, “I was really excited to help springboard the program.”

Unfortunately, Peyton’s collegiate golf career was abruptly cut short by a shoulder injury. Peyton was addressing a ball at practice one day when she immediately felt pain in her right shoulder.

She went to the hospital and visited multiple doctors who cannot seem to diagnose the problem. Although she misses being able to play regularly, Peyton is thankful that the injury happened when it did. She was the managing editor during the 2017-18 school year for The Beacon, Palm Beach Atlantic’s student publication. By no longer being able to play, Peyton has put all of her time and energy into The Beacon and is currently the editor-in-chief.

“I wouldn’t have been able to be editor-in-chief if I was on the golf team. So, this injury was like okay, it’s time to step away from the team. It just made sense. I’m thankful it happened… Everything worked out!” Peyton said after reflecting on her injury.

Peyton isn’t like most college students in the fact that she knows what she wants to do once she graduates.

“I’ve known I’ve wanted to be a journalist since high school… I’ve always known,” Peyton said.

Since she was in elementary school, her parents realized Peyton had a talent for writing. Peyton remembers her parents reading her school essays and encouraging her to write more. Once Peyton began high school, she joined the school newspaper where she was the copy editor.

“I love to tell stories and hear other people’s experiences and how they impact society.”

Ron Balicki’s legacy means something different to everyone that knew him or read his work. To Peyton, his legacy means that no matter what one does, that they do something that they love. The path Balicki paved is something that she is thankful for and something she will never forget as she continues her career in journalism.

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How to stick to a New Year’s exercise resolution

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It’s January, and to many people that means a fresh start, turning over a new leaf, breaking bad habits and making the positive changes we’ve been saying we’re going to make for ages but never quite get around to making.

Increasing the amount of exercise we do is something many people choose to change and for good reason. Exercise is extremely beneficial to our health, both physically and emotionally.

Whether you’re looking to increase your fitness, lose some weight, reduce your stress levels or complete a challenge or event, here are some tips to help you stay on track!

1. Find something you love

Don’t like the gym? Don’t join one! There are so many other ways of keeping fit and exercising.

Try a class; a bootcamp; find a dance group; try your hand at martial arts; go walking or swimming; start up (or return to) a sport.

There’s a form of exercise for everyone. So, if you’ve not found something you enjoy yet, just keep trying new things.

It’s hard enough to get out of the house on a dark cold morning or evening to do something you enjoy, so it’s nearly impossible to do so for something you don’t really like! If you’ve tried the gym or running, for example, before and didn’t last the distance, try something new this time!

2. Do it together

It’s much easier to stick to something if you have a friend or loved one who’s also taking part. You spur each other on, drag each other out of the house when one of you doesn’t want to go and encourage each other to work that little harder. There might even be a healthy dose of friendly rivalry!

Some people love exercising on their own and see it as time to think and de-stress. Others prefer company to make the time pass quicker and make sure they don’t quit!

3. Avoid injury

You can’t keep exercising if you’re injured! As a sports injury therapist I see a lot of people who start a new regime only to become injured within a few weeks.

The main reason for this is doing “too much too soon.” It’s a bit of a cliché but it is very true. When starting a new sport or form of exercise you need to start slowly and have adequate rest.

This is something completely new to your body and it will take time to adapt and develop the strength, endurance and movement patterns required.

Even if you are returning to something you have previously done before, you still need to start slow and at a lower level than where you left off. It is also important to receive some form of instruction from a professional (coach, instructor, etc.) to ensure your technique and equipment are all OK.

4. Support from family/friends

Even if you can’t convince them to join you in your new pastime, family and friends can still help by offering you support and encouragement. Make sure they know how serious you are about it and ask them to help in any small way they can.

For example, just asking how it’s going and being interested (even if it’s faked!) in what you’re doing can really help. Getting them to encourage you to go to your gym/club/group or to go out for a walk/ride/run/swim can be the little push you need.

Working out a schedule with a partner regarding when you’re going to make time for your new pursuit is important. You need to find time around your other commitments and also ensure that they don’t feel put out by you disappearing off in the evenings or shirking your share of the chores. This could lead to a less supportive spouse!

It’s also really helpful if they can tell you any differences they notice in you, be it a little weight loss or that you can walk more without getting out of breath. The fact that someone else has noticed is a great encouragement.

5. Set a goal

Whatever form of exercise you choose to undertake, there are always goals that you can set yourself to keep you going. Having a target helps you to keep interested and working towards something, rather than just going through the motions.

Obviously, there are many events for those into running, cycling, triathlons, etc. But even if your chosen exercise doesn’t have such events, there is always a goal you can set yourself.

For example, to complete an increasing number of lengths in the pool every week; to walk a well-known local route or something further afield; achieve a certain time on your indoor rower for 2,000 or 5,000 meters; or to make the team in your new sport.

If your end goal is a big one and some ways off, then make sure you set smaller goals to meet along the way. For example, if your goal is to run a marathon and you’re currently a 5-10 km runner, add in a couple of events before your marathon attempt, such as a 10-mile race, half-marathon and/or 15- to 20-mile races.

6. Be kind to yourself

So you have a week where you don’t do any exercise. Work’s busy; you’re not feeling great; the kids are playing up… whatever the reason, it doesn’t matter. Life has its ways of disrupting our plans and even the most well-intentioned and ardent exerciser has days, sometimes longer where they just don’t feel up to it.

Don’t beat yourself up about it. Just start again when you are ready. Don’t push yourself to exercise if you don’t feel up to it.

Sometimes our bodies just need to slow down for a few days and recover. If you keep pushing when your body is telling you to rest, you run the risk of burnout and needing longer off your plan.

I hope these tips help you to stick to your New Year’s resolution to exercise more. Whatever your exercise of choice is, I hope 2019 sees you continue with it and reap its benefits!

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6 great state parks for hiking

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Almost all state parks have hiking trails. Many times the trails are great but limited. My ideal state park has multiple trails with variation in the trails so I can hike a longer or difficult trail when I am in the mood or a short and easy trail when I want a short hike.

I am not a hardcore hiker and don’t go on overnight hikes but I sometimes hike a longer hike of several hours. If you enjoy hiking, here are six state parks that are worth a visit.

Lake Superior view at Gooseberry Falls State Park

Gooseberry Falls State Park in Minnesota

The trails in this park have impressive views. The River View Trail (1.25 miles one-way) is easily reached from the campground. One end is a beach on Lake Superior while the other is the Lower and Middle Falls where you can step among the rocks at the falls.

The Gitchi Gimmi Trail (2.5-mile loop) has fabulous views of the lake. The park also has a hiking trail to falls and caves and the park connects to a bike trail along the lake. My favorite hike doesn’t seem to have a name but runs just south and east of the campground along the lake.

Another challenge here is to view all the CCC constructions, which are quite unique in their materials. In the winter the trails are groomed for cross-country skiing. The campsites are nice and private, but there are no hookups at all.

Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio

This used to be a park only known to a few people in Ohio but it has become more popular as more people hear about it. Some of these trails are within walking distance of the campground but most require a drive. They are worth it!

The trails take you to rocky cliffs, waterfalls, and small caves throughout the countryside. Most of the hiking trails are a mile or less. The biking trails are 0.5–7.2 miles long. Old Man’s Cave is the most famous.

However, Ash Cave, Cedar Falls, Conkles Hollow, Rock House, and Cantwell Cliffs are all fun to visit. The campsites here have water, electric, and sewer.

View at Coopers Rock State Forest

Coopers Rock State Forest in West Virginia

The views of Cheat River and the mountains of West Virginia are gorgeous. Raven Rock Trail takes you to a quiet view. The main view is at Coopers Rock but it can be busy on weekends. It can be reached by a short walk from the parking lot.

This area has several fun trails, including the scary-named Rattlesnake Trail. A secret trail exists in this area called Haystack Trail. It’s a very short trail but requires some crawling on rocks. A ranger may be able to help you find it.

The forest trails take you deep in the woods and along streams. The best here is Clay Run Trail to reach the historical Henry Clay Iron Furnace. The trail distances in this park aren’t marked on most maps but are said to be 1-3 miles long for a total of over 50 miles of trails.

In the winter, you can cross-country ski many of the trails. Camping is excellent with electricity available at many sites.

Palo Duro State Park

Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Texas

The hiking trails in this large canyon (2nd largest in the U.S.) are simply superb. I’ve been at the park a couple of times but haven’t been able to hike more than half of the trails.

There are several short trails near the entrance of the canyon that give you an overview of the park. Lighthouse Trail (2.7 miles one-way) has fascinating rock formations along the way that are named or you can make up your own names.

Several hiking trails wind along the stream in the center of the canyon. These trails include historical stops along with interesting rocks. The Rock Garden Trail (2.4 miles one-way) takes you to the top of the canyon.

It’s interesting to see people on their phones at the end of this trail since this is one of the few places in the park with phone service. My favorite hike is the Givens, Spicer, Lowry Trail (3.1 miles).

The coloring of the rocks is wonderful. There are several campgrounds. All have excellent views and most have water and electric.

Canyon Loop Trail

Catalina State Park in Arizona

The Tucson area is great for hiking in general but this is a great place to camp while enjoying hiking within and outside the park. The Romero Ruins Trail (0.75 mile loop) has an archaeological site along with interpretive signs. The Nature Trail (1.0 mile loop) identifies local plants.

The Canyon Loop Trail (2.3-mile loop) has some terrific views of the surrounding hills. My favorite is the Romero Canyon Trail (7.2 miles one-way). The first part to the Romero Pools is challenging enough for me at 2.8 miles one-way but with an elevation gain of 900 feet. The trail after that is even more challenging with an elevation gain of 3,300 feet.

There are several other trails of varied lengths for hiking, biking, or for horses. The park also has some wonderful ranger/volunteer programs. The camping is excellent here with electricity and water hookups.

Hunter Trail view

Picacho Peak State Park in Arizona

The Calloway Trial is short (0.5 miles) but the overlook at the end is well worth the hike. The big trail is the Hunter Trail (1.6 miles one-way). It doesn’t sound like much but the path is steep. Gloves are recommended.

The trail uses steel cables in several places where you need those gloves to pull yourself up. The interesting part of this trail is that you climb for a while to get top of the hill. As you are celebrating, you realize that the trail continues on the back of the hill and on up to the peak.

This second section is even more challenging. Then you have to return. Sunset Vista Trail (3.1 miles) is even longer and the first couple of miles are considered moderate. Gloves are needed on this trail, too. The campground is excellent and the campsites have water.

For all the parks, watch the temperatures. You may want to visit some of these parks in the winter since summer temperatures make hiking unbearable.

Of course, make sure you bring along plenty of water and snacks on these trails and stay safe. What parks do you visit for great hiking?

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6 great state parks for hiking

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Almost all state parks have hiking trails. Many times the trails are great but limited. My ideal state park has multiple trails with variation in the trails so I can hike a longer or difficult trail when I am in the mood or a short and easy trail when I want a short hike.

I am not a hardcore hiker and don’t go on overnight hikes but I sometimes hike a longer hike of several hours. If you enjoy hiking, here are six state parks that are worth a visit.

Lake Superior view at Gooseberry Falls State Park

Gooseberry Falls State Park in Minnesota

The trails in this park have impressive views. The River View Trail (1.25 miles one-way) is easily reached from the campground. One end is a beach on Lake Superior while the other is the Lower and Middle Falls where you can step among the rocks at the falls.

The Gitchi Gimmi Trail (2.5-mile loop) has fabulous views of the lake. The park also has a hiking trail to falls and caves and the park connects to a bike trail along the lake. My favorite hike doesn’t seem to have a name but runs just south and east of the campground along the lake.

Another challenge here is to view all the CCC constructions, which are quite unique in their materials. In the winter the trails are groomed for cross-country skiing. The campsites are nice and private, but there are no hookups at all.

Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio

This used to be a park only known to a few people in Ohio but it has become more popular as more people hear about it. Some of these trails are within walking distance of the campground but most require a drive. They are worth it!

The trails take you to rocky cliffs, waterfalls, and small caves throughout the countryside. Most of the hiking trails are a mile or less. The biking trails are 0.5–7.2 miles long. Old Man’s Cave is the most famous.

However, Ash Cave, Cedar Falls, Conkles Hollow, Rock House, and Cantwell Cliffs are all fun to visit. The campsites here have water, electric, and sewer.

View at Coopers Rock State Forest

Coopers Rock State Forest in West Virginia

The views of Cheat River and the mountains of West Virginia are gorgeous. Raven Rock Trail takes you to a quiet view. The main view is at Coopers Rock but it can be busy on weekends. It can be reached by a short walk from the parking lot.

This area has several fun trails, including the scary-named Rattlesnake Trail. A secret trail exists in this area called Haystack Trail. It’s a very short trail but requires some crawling on rocks. A ranger may be able to help you find it.

The forest trails take you deep in the woods and along streams. The best here is Clay Run Trail to reach the historical Henry Clay Iron Furnace. The trail distances in this park aren’t marked on most maps but are said to be 1-3 miles long for a total of over 50 miles of trails.

In the winter, you can cross-country ski many of the trails. Camping is excellent with electricity available at many sites.

Palo Duro State Park

Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Texas

The hiking trails in this large canyon (2nd largest in the U.S.) are simply superb. I’ve been at the park a couple of times but haven’t been able to hike more than half of the trails.

There are several short trails near the entrance of the canyon that give you an overview of the park. Lighthouse Trail (2.7 miles one-way) has fascinating rock formations along the way that are named or you can make up your own names.

Several hiking trails wind along the stream in the center of the canyon. These trails include historical stops along with interesting rocks. The Rock Garden Trail (2.4 miles one-way) takes you to the top of the canyon.

It’s interesting to see people on their phones at the end of this trail since this is one of the few places in the park with phone service. My favorite hike is the Givens, Spicer, Lowry Trail (3.1 miles).

The coloring of the rocks is wonderful. There are several campgrounds. All have excellent views and most have water and electric.

Canyon Loop Trail

Catalina State Park in Arizona

The Tucson area is great for hiking in general but this is a great place to camp while enjoying hiking within and outside the park. The Romero Ruins Trail (0.75 mile loop) has an archaeological site along with interpretive signs. The Nature Trail (1.0 mile loop) identifies local plants.

The Canyon Loop Trail (2.3-mile loop) has some terrific views of the surrounding hills. My favorite is the Romero Canyon Trail (7.2 miles one-way). The first part to the Romero Pools is challenging enough for me at 2.8 miles one-way but with an elevation gain of 900 feet. The trail after that is even more challenging with an elevation gain of 3,300 feet.

There are several other trails of varied lengths for hiking, biking, or for horses. The park also has some wonderful ranger/volunteer programs. The camping is excellent here with electricity and water hookups.

Hunter Trail view

Picacho Peak State Park in Arizona

The Calloway Trial is short (0.5 miles) but the overlook at the end is well worth the hike. The big trail is the Hunter Trail (1.6 miles one-way). It doesn’t sound like much but the path is steep. Gloves are recommended.

The trail uses steel cables in several places where you need those gloves to pull yourself up. The interesting part of this trail is that you climb for a while to get top of the hill. As you are celebrating, you realize that the trail continues on the back of the hill and on up to the peak.

This second section is even more challenging. Then you have to return. Sunset Vista Trail (3.1 miles) is even longer and the first couple of miles are considered moderate. Gloves are needed on this trail, too. The campground is excellent and the campsites have water.

For all the parks, watch the temperatures. You may want to visit some of these parks in the winter since summer temperatures make hiking unbearable.

Of course, make sure you bring along plenty of water and snacks on these trails and stay safe. What parks do you visit for great hiking?

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Top 5 perks of being a physical therapist

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Some people are fortunate enough to love their jobs. I think that most physical therapists would fall into this category. We are in a great line of work, for many reasons.

Around this time of year, it is important to reflect, be thankful and look forward to what’s to come, so I thought I would write a little lighthearted post to celebrate being a PT!

1. Job Satisfaction

Top of the list has to be job satisfaction. We get to make such a massive difference to so many people’s lives. Whether it’s helping someone to play their sport again; improving their performance; getting someone back to work or even having a positive effect on debilitating pain, it’s such a great feeling to really help someone.

Knowing you’ve made a difference to someone which has helped to improve their movement, pain levels, personal best or quality of life is great. Being able to say, “today at work I made a difference” is a lovely feeling to have.

2. Wide Ranging Opportunities

This line of work can take you almost anywhere! The opportunities range from private practice to professional sports teams, to special educational and disability schools to the armed forces.

You could be employed in a clinic, a hospital, an army base, or a school. You might be self-employed and either visit clients in their own homes or set up your own clinic. Not many occupations have such a wide reach in terms of possibilities and there’s one out there to suit us all.

3. Flexible Hours

Who doesn’t love flexible working? Whilst this may vary depending on the setting in which you are employed, not many therapists work standard office hours.

Yes, this means we may have to work some evening or weekend shifts, but hey, the shops are quieter on a Monday morning anyway, right? As is the gym. Hooray for avoiding the after-work gym rush!

4. Free Treatments

If you are lucky enough to work with colleagues you may even be getting some free treatment. I know I do!

We offer up free treatments to each other when necessary, knowing the favor will be repaid somewhere along the line. You might even squeeze this into your working day if you both have a little spare time. Yet another perk!

5. Chatting to Clients

I love a good chin wag and many longer-term clients become like friends. They come in for their treatment and we have a good natter whilst I’m working on them.

It becomes like going to work to see your friends, which is a lovely thing to do. Especially when your “friends” pay you and bring you all manner of gifts! I’ve had everything from fresh produce from their gardens, eggs, clothes, chocolates, an ordinance survey map and the odd bottle of wine at Christmas!

These are my top five perks. I’m sure there are plenty more that I haven’t thought of and they will be different for everyone. Whatever your favorite parts of your PT job are, I’m sure there aren’t many other professions out there that can match it!

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Top 5 perks of being a physical therapist

Tags : 

{summary}

Some people are fortunate enough to love their jobs. I think that most physical therapists would fall into this category. We are in a great line of work, for many reasons.

Around this time of year, it is important to reflect, be thankful and look forward to what’s to come, so I thought I would write a little lighthearted post to celebrate being a PT!

1. Job Satisfaction

Top of the list has to be job satisfaction. We get to make such a massive difference to so many people’s lives. Whether it’s helping someone to play their sport again; improving their performance; getting someone back to work or even having a positive effect on debilitating pain, it’s such a great feeling to really help someone.

Knowing you’ve made a difference to someone which has helped to improve their movement, pain levels, personal best or quality of life is great. Being able to say, “today at work I made a difference” is a lovely feeling to have.

2. Wide Ranging Opportunities

This line of work can take you almost anywhere! The opportunities range from private practice to professional sports teams, to special educational and disability schools to the armed forces.

You could be employed in a clinic, a hospital, an army base, or a school. You might be self-employed and either visit clients in their own homes or set up your own clinic. Not many occupations have such a wide reach in terms of possibilities and there’s one out there to suit us all.

3. Flexible Hours

Who doesn’t love flexible working? Whilst this may vary depending on the setting in which you are employed, not many therapists work standard office hours.

Yes, this means we may have to work some evening or weekend shifts, but hey, the shops are quieter on a Monday morning anyway, right? As is the gym. Hooray for avoiding the after-work gym rush!

4. Free Treatments

If you are lucky enough to work with colleagues you may even be getting some free treatment. I know I do!

We offer up free treatments to each other when necessary, knowing the favor will be repaid somewhere along the line. You might even squeeze this into your working day if you both have a little spare time. Yet another perk!

5. Chatting to Clients

I love a good chin wag and many longer-term clients become like friends. They come in for their treatment and we have a good natter whilst I’m working on them.

It becomes like going to work to see your friends, which is a lovely thing to do. Especially when your “friends” pay you and bring you all manner of gifts! I’ve had everything from fresh produce from their gardens, eggs, clothes, chocolates, an ordinance survey map and the odd bottle of wine at Christmas!

These are my top five perks. I’m sure there are plenty more that I haven’t thought of and they will be different for everyone. Whatever your favorite parts of your PT job are, I’m sure there aren’t many other professions out there that can match it!

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