Sunday, February 18, 2018
Health

Get outdoors to nurture yourself with nature's help

Fresh markets, sunshine, water everywhere, bike trails, award-winning beaches, parks and museums — the Tampa Bay area offers an abundance of healthy choices for mind, body and spirit. • The mental and spiritual renewal you can find in a quiet stroll through an art exhibit or a contemplative hour on a beachside bench are just as important to your health as the many exercise options the bay area offers. • With the coldest weather most likely past us and the sultry days far ahead, now is the best time to get out and make the most of it. • Here are some healthy choices to help you get started:

Natural Beauty

We live in an inspiringly beautiful place. If jogging, cycling, kayaking, standup paddleboarding or kite-surfing aren't your style, how about a long, slow, quiet walk?

Beautiful surroundings invite you to connect with your spiritual side. Prayer, meditation, reading, listening to music, keeping a gratitude journal or simply sitting quietly, alone with your thoughts, all take on new dimensions when you're in a beautiful outdoor setting.

If you always listen to music while working out, try a silent workout and see where your thoughts take you.

Here are some popular spots:

Clearwater Beach: USA Today's "Best Beach Town in Florida" 2013 and Dr. Beach's "Best Beach on the Gulf of Mexico" 1999.

Fort De Soto Park: Parents magazine's "Best Beach for Families" 2011.

Caladesi Island: Dr. Beach's "Top Beach in America" 2008.

The Pinellas Trail: More than 38 miles of protected green space for biking, jogging and walking, from downtown St. Petersburg to Tarpon Springs.

And some quieter spots

Southernmost beach bench at Caladesi State Park: Walk north on Clearwater Beach for about 2 miles to Caladesi State Park. It's well worth every single step to sit in solitude on one of the best beachside benches anywhere. Look out to sea. Listen to the waves. Say a prayer. Plan to stay for a while, because you won't want to leave.

Ninth Street, Belleair Beach: Head west across the Belleair Causeway. Turn left onto Gulf Boulevard, left again on Ninth Street, and left again on Harbor Drive. Park between the tennis courts and playground and walk across the little wooden bridge to the bay. A quiet little white sand beach and sandbar greet you there. Bring your fishing pole, kayak or paddleboard, or just sit and watch the egrets, herons and the occasional dolphin or manatee. It's a magical spot. You'll feel better the minute your feet hit the sand.

Healthy creativity

A recent Psychology Today article explored the growing arts in health care movement that "recognizes the arts, creativity, and imagination as agents of wellness and their consistent and central presence throughout history as healing practices."

I especially like the local art walks offered around the area that give you a chance to peek into galleries and artist studies. My favorite is the Second Saturday Art Walk, which last time I checked had 30 participating art venues all over St. Petersburg. Try it out. It's good exercise, you'll meet new people and refresh your thought with some inspiring art.

Even when the weather isn't inviting, the art certainly is at indoor venues including St. Petersburg's Chihuly Collection, the Dalí Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg. The Tampa Museum of Art, the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, also in downtown Tampa, and the Contemporary Art Museum at USF's main campus are well worth your contemplative time, too.

Eat healthy, eat local

There are at least a dozen fresh markets in the area that not only offer locally grown produce, fresh baked goods and food trucks, but also entertainment, crafts and art. And you can find one just about any day of the week. Definitely take advantage soon, because many only are open through spring.

Clearwater's is Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. through May 15; Dunedin's is Fridays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., through April 26; Gulfport's is Tuesdays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Hyde Park's is the first Sunday of the month, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Largo Community Center's is Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Palm Harbor's is Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Passe-a-Grille's is Sunday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; St. Pete Beach's (Corey Avenue) is Sundays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Franklin Street in downtown Tampa hosts a market on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Tarpon Springs Community Center also is Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

And the largest local market, St. Petersburg's, is Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., on the waterfront just off First Avenue S.

Being and staying healthy means making good choices. The bay area is blessed with an abundance of options that are good for your mind, body and spirit. So plan to get out, get inspired, refresh your spirit, eat good, local fresh food, immerse yourself in art, and enjoy the natural beauty all around you. You'll be healthier for it.

Bob Clark is a Christian Science practitioner from Belleair. Read his blog at flcompub.org/blog.

Comments
Be prepared to help save a life: Learn CPR

Be prepared to help save a life: Learn CPR

70 percent of cardiac arrests outside hospitals happen at home. American Heart Association 3 a.m. Jan. 4, 2016. Lisa Peters of St. Petersburg is awakened by her husband, Rick, making strange gasping sounds. She can’t wake him. He feels cold. Only 46...
Published: 02/16/18

Step by step, ramp up your daily activity

Jae Bermanhe Washington Post There are many reasons that people avoid exercise. Time is an obvious one. Our lives are already busy — who has time to work out? Money is another common excuse. Gym memberships and equipment can get pricey.People often w...
Published: 02/16/18
Put Alaskan king crab leg shells to work in a creamy, dreamy bisque

Put Alaskan king crab leg shells to work in a creamy, dreamy bisque

Nothing says indulgence like noshing on some seriously giant Alaskan king crab legs. They’re not just tasty, they’re a low-fat source of protein: One leg has about 25 grams of protein and a host of vitamins and minerals (including sodium, incidentall...
Published: 02/15/18
Avocado toast gets a persimmon twist

Avocado toast gets a persimmon twist

You’ve likely seen persimmon in the grocery store and then shied away from it, not quite sure what to do with it. The most common variety in the United States is the fuyu persimmon, also called Japanese persimmon, and it looks similar to a slightly f...
Published: 02/15/18
News co-anchor Dan Harris delves into meditation, and why being distracted is ‘a victory’

News co-anchor Dan Harris delves into meditation, and why being distracted is ‘a victory’

Emma Seppalahe Washington PostDan Harris is co-anchor of ABC’s Nightline and the weekend editions of Good Morning America. His first book, 10% Happier, was a No. 1 New York Times bestseller. He later launched the 10% Happier podcast and an app called...
Published: 02/15/18

Mayo Clinic Q&A: exercise stress tests; breast self-awareness versus self-exams

DON’T SWEAT THE EXERCISE STRESS TESTI have a treadmill stress test scheduled to look for heart disease. I know this involves exercising, and I’m worried that I’m not physically up to it. Is there another way to gather this information?Yes. There’s an...
Published: 02/15/18
Gay doctor takes a drug to prevent HIV. Then he couldn’t get disability insurance

Gay doctor takes a drug to prevent HIV. Then he couldn’t get disability insurance

Three years ago, Dr. Philip J. Cheng, a urology resident at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, nicked himself while preparing an HIV-positive patient for surgery.Following hospital protocol, he took a one-month course of Truvada, a cocktail of t...
Published: 02/15/18
Doctor removes worm from Tampa man’s eye. ‘Luckily we caught it just in time’

Doctor removes worm from Tampa man’s eye. ‘Luckily we caught it just in time’

TAMPA — Nothing seemed wrong or out of place when it was time for Sam Cordero to make an appointment for a routine eye exam.The 57-year-old man from Tampa occasionally saw a few bright or foggy spots in his left eye, but thought it was just "floaters...
Published: 02/14/18
Updated: 02/15/18
A couple calls to ask, ‘Hey, can we donate our kidneys?’ The stranger who got one is in awe

A couple calls to ask, ‘Hey, can we donate our kidneys?’ The stranger who got one is in awe

LARGO — Keshava Persaud entered the room inside Largo Medical Center, his wife at his side. His eyes went right to the couple across the room. They looked so young, he thought. Tears welled as he handed the woman, April Scott, 49, potted white silk f...
Published: 02/14/18
Bayfront Health system gets new leader

Bayfront Health system gets new leader

Bayfront Health has hired a new executive position to oversee the six regional hospitals it operates along the Gulf Coast of Florida. Joseph Mullany has been appointed regional president and chief executive officer of Bayfront Health, and will overse...
Published: 02/13/18