WALLINGFORD – The YMCA therapy pool turned into an exercise studio Monday morning as participants of all abilities stretched, floated and worked out in the heated water as part of a class designed to ease symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
“It’s a completely different medium and it really helps to loosen the tight muscles,” said Howard Inglis, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s seven years ago.
Inglis said he hadn’t been swimming in years before attending the weekly class.
The program began last year as a way to aid symptoms of the neurological disease, which affects movement and causes stiff muscles, tremors, and can impact speech.
Instructor Phyllis Drescher introduced the Parkinson’s aquatics class to the YMCA after years of teaching water aerobics and Parkinson’s exercise classes at the YM and the local senior center.
“I decided maybe water would be helpful to this community,” she said. “It’s been very interesting to watch the benefits of doing water with people with Parkinson’s.
On Monday, three of the regular participants, including Inglis, worked on movements in the water, including rolling their shoulders front and back, walking back and forth on the pool floor, stretching their legs with the help of a pool noodle, twisting their hips and other exercises designed to help flexibility and strength.
“Something about the water allows us this pathway to communicate that normally we can’t do,” said Laurie Kapozzi, a helper for participant Jane Pinciaro.
Kapozzi aided Pinciaro in extending her legs and floating.
“When you submerge yourself up to your shoulders in water you lose 90 percent of your body weight,” Drescher said. “They’re able to do a lot more here in the water than they can do on land.”
For Larry Kozlowski, the water was less limiting as he walked five-feet deep forwards and backwards.
“I swam a lot when I was younger,” Kozlowski said. “I enjoy this immensely, it makes movement a lot easier.”
Participants have the opportunity to free-float or swim for a few minutes at the end of class.
The program runs once a week for 45 minutes in the therapy pool at the YMCA on South Elm Street.
More information can be found by contacting Drescher at 203-265-0223