Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Health

Who needs a gym when you've got the Belleair Causeway Bridge?

New mom Renee Franklin of Indian Rocks Beach runs the Belleair Causeway Bridge at least twice a week while pushing her 6-month-old, Joseph, in his stroller.

"I'm from Philly, and just like Rocky did when he reached the top of those stairs in downtown Philly, sometimes when I get to the top, I do a dance for Joseph,'' she said.

Kurt Thomas of Clearwater sprints the bridge, which spans the Intracoastal Waterway and links Belleair Beach to Belleair Bluffs, about five times each week. He holds a lime green stopwatch and clicks it on near the Belleair Bluffs entrance sign. After he dashes over the bridge, he clicks it off at Gulf Boulevard.

"It's a little over a mile one way, and my best time is a little under 10 minutes,'' said Thomas, 59. "I do it because it's a good challenge for an old guy.''

And on a recent Tuesday, Pam Broucinek of Largo walked the bridge with her three friends, Jacie Bell, Lisa Woods and Dawn Wysocki. The women are preparing for their summer vacation hiking in Cumberland Gap National Historical Park where the borders of Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia meet.

Walking the bridge is "great exercise because it gives us an incline,'' said Broucinek, 57. "And we use the bridge to catch up on each other's lives.''

Whether it's morning, lunchtime or sunset, drive across the Belleair Causeway Bridge, which opened in 2009, and chances are you'll see serious hoofing going on.

Although Pinellas County officials anticipated the community would take advantage of the public park below the bridge — it's equipped with 10 boat ramps, a dog park and a fishing pier — the new bridge's popularity as a fitness destination is a pleasant surprise, said Paul Cozzie, bureau director of the parks and conservation resources department.

"I guess I didn't expect it so much,'' he said. "And I think I didn't expect it because of what was there before. We just didn't see people using the old bridge the same way, but now I myself have walked it, and I've heard that someone is even running a fitness boot camp there.''

That would be Julia Zammito, a certified personal trainer who lives in Indian Rocks Beach.

"I love the bridge,'' said Zammito, 28. "The bridge was my back yard while I was growing up in Harbor Hills, and even when I'm not working, I still love to walk it when there's not a monsoon happening.''

About once a month, Zammito holds what she calls a bridge boot camp. (The next one will be June 30 at 8 a.m.) First, she leads participants in a 20-minute workout on the sand below the bridge before taking them up the 74-foot-tall bridge.

"We do walking lunges, side-shuffles and backpedals up the bridge. After that we work on push-ups by using the bridge's railing,'' she said.

Woody Brown, a Largo city commissioner who owns a downtown Largo chiropractic office about 2 miles from the bridge, believes the bridge offers something for all fitness levels.

"The view is beautiful, and it's not a real steep grade. The Sand Key Bridge is steeper,'' he said.

"I like to encourage all my patients to walk, and along with that, the best prevention of diseases like osteoporosis is weight-bearing exercises, along with proper nutrition. Walking a bridge is certainly a weight-bearing exercise,'' he said.

However, Brown stresses that people always should use caution.

"If you're going to run it, even if you're an experienced runner, it's best to first walk it one or two times to get to know it, and when you do run it, keep in mind that most injuries occur not on the incline but when you are going downhill,'' he said.

"When you're going downhill, it's a different workout. You're using different muscles to slow down. So more people hurt themselves going down than going up the bridge,'' he said.

Brown has become familiar with the concept of having a bridge as an exercise tool through his wife, Jenny, who frequently participates in marathons.

"My wife likes to use the three bridges near our home — the Belleair, the Sand Key and the Memorial Causeway — for training. Otherwise, Florida is so flat,'' he said. "She considers the bridges her mountains.''

Piper Castillo is reachable at [email protected] or (727) 445-4163. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

 
Comments
Preventive treatment for peanut allergies succeeds in study

Preventive treatment for peanut allergies succeeds in study

The first treatment to help prevent serious allergic reactions to peanuts may be on the way. A company said Tuesday that its daily capsules of peanut flour helped sensitize children to nuts in a major study. Millions of children have peanut allergies...
Published: 02/20/18
Doctors were wrong when they told her immunotherapy wouldn’t cure her cancer

Doctors were wrong when they told her immunotherapy wouldn’t cure her cancer

No one expected the four young women to live much longer. They had an extremely rare, aggressive and fatal form of ovarian cancer. There was no standard treatment.The women, strangers to one another living in different countries, asked their doctors ...
Published: 02/20/18

Hernando Bloodmobile for Feb. 23

Bloodmobile locationsLifeSouth Community Blood Center will have blood drives at the following off-site locations during the coming week:Feb. 23: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Walmart, 13300 Cortez Blvd., Spring Hill; 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Dickey’s Barbecue P...
Published: 02/20/18
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