Swim to your health

Published 10:43 pm Saturday, August 9, 2008

As the mercury continues to climb in August, the seniors of Pearl River County are finding creative ways to exercise, stay cool and have fun. It turns out, water aerobics offers them all three.

While there are a couple of options to choose from if you are interested in taking a water fitness class, a more relaxed class geared toward people with health concerns and limited mobility is found in Carriere at the Swim Hutch Aquatic Center, LLC.

“We’re not doing anything medical here,” said Olga Everett, co-instructor of the the Aqua-exercise class. But what about all the health benefits being experienced by members of the class? Merely coincidence? You may just want to take the plunge and decide for yourself.

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Members of the Aqua-exercise class meet three times a week, not just for exercise, but friendship and fun. While the class is made of up largely of seniors and largely of women, you don’t have to fit into either one of those categories to take the class.

The current class roster contains more than 30 names with most of the participants ranging between 60 and 80 years of age, the more important and sensational fact is that everyone in the class has experienced some sort of health-related issues that make land based exercise either too difficult, too painful or IMPOSSIBLE. With limited mobility, even the chair exercise class called Body Recall, which is designed especially for seniors, can be difficult for those who have turned to water aerobics for an acceptable alternative.

Several members of the class offered up their list of illnesses such as clogged arteries, hip replacements, knee replacements, arthritis, back injuries, osteoporosis, degenerate disks, heart conditions and other ailments that would have prevented them from doing most other types of exercise.

Co-instructor Rosalyn Folks is currently battling with breast cancer. She said that she hopes to offer encouragement to others with illnesses by showing them if she can do it, that they can too.

Another member said she needed assistance getting in and out of the pool her first few visits. Now she is refusing the help and getting in and out of the pool all on her own.

Several of the class members have battled depression, but they all glow in the water among friends. “This has done more, not just for our health but its been beneficial to our total outlook about life. Even the friendships we’ve made have been beneficial,” chimed in another member and so the testimonials go on and on.

But don’t just take their word for it. Reports show that swimming builds endurance, muscle strength, cardiovascular fitness and reduces the stress impacts on the body that most other exercise creates. It has been said there can be nothing better than water aerobics for increasing flexibility and strength.

In addition to helping increase their flexibility, mobility and reducing the need for pain meds, as some class members claim, some also say they lost a few pounds.

The “mermaids” and “mermen” share birthdays, holidays, recipes, and get well wishes with each other, Everett said. And because Picayune is a Certified Retirement Community, its important that its retired residents have yet another safe and healthy activity option.

Swim Hutch, owned and operated by Darin Hutchinson, offers water aerobics on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 – 10 a.m. for a monthly fee of $45. The facility is open all year with a heated and indoor pool. For more information, call 601-798-6200.