Health program open to community

Neck deep in water, about two dozen people do leg exercises with pool noodles, stretch and more.

They are participating in Amiee Constantopoulos’ water aerobics class as part of the Eastern New Mexico University Lifelong Wellness Program.

Water aerobics student Shirley Wormington credits the class with her ability to regain a full range of motion in her shoulder after an injury three years ago.

“And it is a fun thing to do and makes exercising so much easier,” she said.

Health and Physical Education Department chairwoman Mary Drabbs said the ongoing for-credit program is open to ENMU employees and community members. While most community members pay tuition for one credit hours a semester, people age 65 and older are charged $5 a semester and university employees have tuition waivers.

Drabbs said enrolling in the program allows people to use the ENMU fitness center and pool, as well as join any health and physical education class with enough space. Participants also have access to Aqua Aerobics and Stretching and Balance classes just for them.

“It’s wonderful to exercise,” said participant Frankye King.

Another water aerobics student, Joyce Davis, called the class a gift and said it provided social interaction and a chance to move.

“You feel so good when you get through,” she said.

Constantopoulos, who has been swimming since childhood and teaching water aerobics for three years, said her goal in class is to help her students improve their health. She teaches many senior citizens as part of the wellness program.

“I learn just as much from them every day as they learn from me, and that’s why I really enjoy working with this age group,” she said.

The water provides buoyancy so senior citizens feel lighter, is easier on joints than land exercise and provides resistance for a better workout, she said. Constantopoulos has practiced yoga for 13 years and incorporates yoga stretches into her water aerobics class.

The wellness program allows scheduling flexibility because people monitor themselves, but having to turn in records of time spent exercising motivates some participants, Drabbs said. She said exercise improves physical health, energy level and mental outlook.

“I wish we had time to do more,” Drabbs said.

Information: Drabbs at 562-4344.