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Winter water aerobics helps keep people active year-round

As Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” plays in the background, some of the Leisure Lifestyles of Oxford water aerobics participants sing along quietly, several timing their movements with the song.

Then the quiet is broken for three beats.

“Bum, bum bum,” everyone sings loudly in unity.

Leisure Lifestyles has been offering water aerobics class every summer at the Oxford City Pool for several years. The classes are free to adults 40 and over and have grown in popularity over the years.

However, when the pool closes at the end of the summer, the participants have to wait nine months before being able to work out in a pool, which has numerous health benefits for older adults.

Kris Brasher, director of aquatics and administrator of Leisure Lifestyles, spoke to the folks at the Courtyard by Marriott Oxford hotel about using their indoor pool during the months the city pool is closed.

“They agreed,” Brasher said. “It’s worked out really well.”

The hotel doesn’t charge LLO for the use of the pool.

While the city pool can accommodate 60 or so people, the pool inside the Marriott is much smaller. Brasher said to be able to offer the winter water aerobics to as many people as possible, there are two classes every Tuesday and Thursday, one at 9 a.m. and another at 10 a.m. Each class runs for about nine weeks and a new group is selected.

“Our Friends of Leisure Lifestyles group actually puts names in a hat to select people for each nine-week session,” Brasher said.

Water aerobics offers a variety of health benefits, including increased muscle strength, building endurance, increases joint flexibility, burns calories and helps cardiovascular circulation.

“It also provides socialization for our members,” Brasher said.

Foam “weights” are used in the pool, which creates resistance and helps build muscle while being less harmful to joints.

“Some of our members couldn’t do regular aerobics safely,” Brasher said. “Being the water reduced the body weight and puts less strain on joints like the knees and hips and also the back.”

Dickie King has been going to LLO’s water aerobics in the summer months for “many years” and was excited to learn the group was offering classes in the winter months.

“My joints work better since going and don’t hurt as much,” King said, “Plus, it’s a lot of fun.”

Bonnie Reid said she suffers from back problems and the water aerobics has helped with the pain.

“It works best for me opposed to exercising out of the water,” she said. “I also enjoy the social aspect of the classes.”

For more information on Leisure Lifestyles programming, visit www.oxfordparkcommission.com.