WILKES-BARRE — When Carol Dobbs, 72, of Hanover Township, admits she doesn’t like exercise, she means she doesn’t enjoy a treadmill.
“It’s so boring,” she said.
But put her in a Water Fitness class at the Wilkes-Barre YMCA and she’ll gladly join more than a dozen other seniors as they jump up and down with the carefree abandon of children and spend about 45 minutes following trainer John Suda’s other directions to move as if they were cross-country skiing, jogging, throwing punches or paddling a canoe.
“If I would do on the land what they do in the water,” 28-year-old Suda said, “I’d never be able to keep up.”
When you’re in water, its buoyant force will bear about 90 percent of your weight, which eliminates much of the stress that can take a toll on knees, ankles and hips when you exercise on land. Working out in a pool also allows the resistance of the water to help tone your muscles and increase flexibility.
Those are good reasons for anyone, but especially older folks, to exercise in the water, YMCA aquatics director Tammy Como said.
“I knew it was beneficial,” said Carol Macheska, 78, of Wilkes-Barre, whose doctor approved of her plan to return to the pool “as soon as possible” after she broke her arm and leg about two years ago.
“I fell backward down the cellar steps and smashed my whole left side,” Macheska said. “Now I have a plate in my arm and a rod in my leg. I spent a solid two months at John Heinz (Institute for Rehabilitation Medicine.)”
Despite her injuries, Macheska said, she’s in no pain and walks smoothly — both factors she attributes to exercising in the pool.
Similarly, Josephine Parker, 80, of Mountain Top, said participating in Water Fitness class soothes her arthritis pain and Kay Kriner, 76, of Wilkes-Barre, said it improved her range of motion and flexibility after she broke her leg.
Thanks to sponsorship from the Area Agency on Aging Prime Time Health Program, the YMCA offers Water Fitness free of charge to area residents who are 50 and older.
Classes are held three days a week, both mornings and afternoons, with the 8:15 a.m. classes being the most popular.
“You work up a sweat,” said participant Carol Baron, 71, of Nanticoke. “But you don’t notice because you’re in the water.”
After class, participants needn’t leave the pool immediately. Vicki Staub, 65, of Lehman Township, for one, stayed to swim some laps on a recent morning
“I always loved the water,” Staub said.