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Here’s to Healthy Living, Golf and Boating

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 By Dawn Bright


Dear Dawn,

My girlfriend claims walking around the block (which takes five minutes) is beneficial to her health. I don’t believe it. Five minutes? Really?

– Sam E. from Destin



Turns out you should believe it, Sam. Because even a five-minute walk can be beneficial to your health. As soon as you start walking, your body releases chemicals to increase energy, your heart rate increases from around 70 to 100, stiffness is reduced, and you begin burning five calories per minute.


If she increases her walk to 10 minutes (twice around the block), her heart rate will increase up to 140, and she’ll burn six calories per minute. What happens if she walks 20 minutes? Her body temperature will rise, she’ll burn seven calories per minute, and she begins producing epinephrine, which is an adrenaline hormone. And 60 minutes? All of those previous benefits are increased. The bottom line is, the longer you walk the better. But even five-minutes is better than nothing.

Dear Dawn,

My husband took up golf about six months ago, and now he plays three times a week. We’ve talked about trying to get more “fit,” and he insists golf can do that. I don’t think so though, as he rides in a cart and drinks a couple of beers while he’s playing. What do you think?

Sondra S. from Fort Walton Beach



Golf! Now here’s a question near and dear to my heart. Because I took up golf a year ago and get to play twice a week. I just love it! Does it make me fit? Somewhat. Is it the end-all to exercise? Probably not. But here’s what playing golf does do for you: It incorporates cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and balance and coordination.


Studies have found even riding in a cart, a golfer burns around 1,300 calories and walks two miles when playing 18 holes. Add in the pure joy of being outside, feeling the wind in your face as you drive the golf cart around the course, and the immeasurable social aspect of the game, and you’re describing a perfect day that definitely involves fitness.


As far as the beer? Well, beer is a dehydrator, as we know, but as long as he’s also drinking a ton of water (especially in this heat) he should be okay. So drop the skepticism, drop a ball, and join him! I think you’ll be surprised at just how much fun you can have, and you’ll both be working together to meet your fitness goals.

Dear Dawn,

My family has a large pontoon boat that we take out into the bay on weekends. We’ve noticed a huge increase in the number of rental pontoons this year, as well as an increase in the number of people who don’t seem to have a clue as to how to operate one. Are there any requirements to renting a pontoon boat?

– George B. from Destin



There are requirements, George, but they aren’t very stringent if you ask me. I contacted several pontoon rental places in Destin, and the answer is you need to be 18 or older and have a boater’s license at the time of rental. That’s it! And if you don’t have a boater’s license, the rental places take you through a “simple” half-hour boating safety course, and then issue you a license.


My personal opinion is the safety course should be more than “simple,” that you should be required to take an exam before you get that license, and that boating etiquette should also be included. Because even if all you’re doing is steering that boat over to Crab Island for the day, driving a boat—big or small—involves knowledge, experience, planning and common sense, not just knowing the safety requirements.


We love our tourists, so take some precautions when you’re out on the water to keep everyone safe. Make sure you know the laws and are adhering to all safety requirements. Understand you may not be given the right-of-way, and be prepared to react accordingly. And although this wasn’t a question about health and fitness like the first two, keeping your eyes open will keep you and your loved ones alive and healthy and out of harm’s way.

Dawn Bright is an eternal optimist. And that’s pretty much all you need to know about her. Email your questions to


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