Rose McKay knows something about how fitness can help with health.
She started teaching aquafit classes in Deer Lake a few years back and has personally seen the benefits, both for herself and those taking her courses. Exercising wasn’t as easy to begin for McKay as it was for others. She was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a heart muscle disease for which there is no cure, and suffers from fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis and diabetes. The resulting pain, exhaustion and stiffness made exercising difficult and it was suggested to her by a rheumatologist to try aquafit, a type of aerobics done in the water.
“It’s a lot of fun, it’s low impact, you can do things in the water that you can’t do out of the water,” she said. “It’s something that no everyone seems to know about, but it can help a lot of people.”
McKay saw results. Her heart function went from 30 to 50. She was able to stop taking some of her heart medications and could also discontinue her diabetes medication.
She said although they have celebrated a few 80th birthdays at her classes, McKay considers aquafit something for everyone. Some choose to do high-intensity work during a session, others socialize and “slack off,” but she said as long as they are doing the work, they are getting exercise.
McKay recalled a time hearing about one person losing weight which he had been unable to accomplish before. Struggling with weight issues, he managed to get down to 200 pounds from approximately 240, something he could never do.
“Now that might not be all aquafit doing that, but it’s at least part of it,” she said. “Once you start taking care of yourself, if you have the will power to exercise, you might have the will power to eat less or eat healthier.”
Aquafit participants perform a series of exercises in the water set to music. It has received national attention for being a full-body workout, exercising not just the cardiovascular system, but muscle groups and the body’s venous system as well.
McKay teaches the class three times a week at the Hodder Memorial Recreation Complex in Deer Lake. The swimming pool in Corner Brook also offers an aquafit program.