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Aquatic fitness gains in popularity

Aquatic fitness is growing in popularity, and if there’s still this idea that it is fringy, and it’s just for special population, that is wrong. Many of the ideas incorporated into water aerobics are translations of land exercises set to work in water.

Part of the draw for many is that exercise in the water doesn’t seem like such hard work, though many who do exercise in water say it actually is more strenuous due to the resistance in the water.

In the water aerobics classes at the recreation center, the ambience is peppy. “It feels like we’re just playing in the pool,” says one of the members. For that reason, water aerobics has been growing among the retired crowd, who are attracted to the social interaction while they exercise.

Seniors are saying their balance has improved since doing water aerobics. That is because many of them can be challenged a lot more than on land. Regardless of one’s physical condition, water can open up more possibilities for individuals with restricted movement on land.

I liken our recreation center’s water aerobics scene to the popular film, “Cocoon,” in which the pool became a healing source for a group of elderly. “Cocoon” was right, we don’t go into outer space, but the water is a miracle cure.

Brenda McCooey is one to the leaders of the 9 a.m. water aerobics class, and she has been exercising on oxygen for the last eight years after a nasty bout of pneumonia. Her oxygen sits in a bag by the side of the pool with a seven-foot length of tubing while she’s in five feet of water and actively going through the exercises.

Brenda had encouraged me to write this article and to specially mention the viability of exercising in water while connected to an oxygen tank. She’s had many people come up to her amazed that she’s exercising in the water while getting her oxygen fix. “I do everything I did before oxygen except travel, and I feel wonderful. Being on oxygen is not a life sentence if you continue to exercise, or if you don’t exercise, start,” said Brenda. She goes on to add, “My breathing has remained the same after all these years and that would not be the case without water aerobics.”

Brenda, who will be 80 this year, strongly encourages her peers to be active. And, if you don’t like water, there are many other exercises you can do — inside or outside. Walking is easy, relaxing and not at all equipment intensive.

Another faithful participant of water aerobics is Benny Lohman, who is 90 years old. This summer, she won the100 meter dash at the Rocky Mountain Senior Olympics, and her accomplishment did not go unnoticed. A letter from Dr. Kenneth Cooper of the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, Texas, applauded her win and described her feat as “Unbelievable.” Incidentally, Benny and her husband had met Dr. and Mrs. Cooper when the couple visited Pagosa Springs many years ago (when Ralph Eaton was developing Fairfield).

Dr. Cooper has encouraged Benny to return to Dallas for an evaluation since the Cooper Clinic is trying to prove the relationship between regular physical activity, prolongation of life, and overall quality of health. “Benny, you are a walking testimony of that prediction,” says Dr. Cooper.

For many, if not all, of the water aerobic participants being in the pool is almost like dancing. They love being around other people. And it’s an uplifting start to the day. And you can be in the water burning calories and having fun without doing the butterfly or breaststroke. Exercise your options … viva la aqua!