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Water Aerobics Keeps Resident Forever Young

McLean resident Doyle Dodge discusses the benefits of Water Aerobics on local television show targeted toward people 50 and older.

Jim Seeley and Doyle Dodge first met at Spring Hill Recreation Center in McLean. Seeley was the instructor of one of Dodge's water aerobics classes.

"One day Jim asked me my age and I told him and he couldn't believe it," said Dodge, who is 75 and lives in McLean with his wife. "He said, 'we've got to get you on my TV show.'"

In fact, it is water aerobics that Dodge credits for his youthful air. In 1996, Dodge suffered an injury which triggered severe arthritis in his neck. As a result, he had to complete six months of therapy sessions that involved electric stimulation of the muscles and joints, massages and stretching, and exercise in a swimming pool. He continued with the water aerobics for a couple of years but then dropped off.

"Then I activated arthritis in the small of my back in 2004 and I went to the doctor and I suggested to him that I get back in the water and he said very definitely, that was the thing to do," said Dodge.

Dodge enrolled in water aerobics classes at Spring Hill Recreation Center. Designed for people with arthritis, they took place three times a week.

"I gradually moved up to some real advanced classes," said Dodge.

This time, Dodge stuck with the classes. The benefits were too good to ignore.

"I really have very little pain from any arthritis or anything," said Dodge. "I probably use Advil, about two pills a day, about three days out of a month – and that's just when I've been exceptionally hard on myself."

When Jim Seeley, the creator of the local television show "Forever Young" heard about Dodge's positive experience with water aerobics, he decided to put him on his show. For Seeley Dodge represents everything that "Forever Young" represents.

"For the last 10 years I've been working with seniors – basically at rec centers like Spring Hill," said Seeley. "I really have enjoyed working with them, and I really have been with how different they are from the types of stereotypes you see in mainstream media… they're active, they're traveling, they're optimistic, I mean they're really just going gangbusters."

SEELEY FIRST GOT the idea for "Forever Young" after working at Greenspring Retirement community in Springfield.

"They had their own 30-minute program over there," said Seeley. "They would interview different people of interest… I was working in their Resident Life department, so that was one of the things we did and I thought, this would be a really great thing to have for the larger community."

Seeley wanted to create a show that would show people over the age of 50, everything from what kinds of activities are available to them, to what kinds of books they might like to read.

"People over 50 account for over 40 percent of the U.S. population," said Seeley.

Fortunately, Seeley has friends at Fairfax County Public Access Channel 10, so he knew it would be the perfect avenue for his concept.

"They are always looking for new programs," said Seeley. "You get free use of the studios and free air-time. The only thing you have to pay for is the cost of video tapes and if you want the thing professionally edited."

Dodge Doyle was on the show with two other water aerobics supporters. They all fielded questions from Seeley about the exercise.

"My main bit for being there was to promote what my views of what water aerobics can do for people my age," said Dodge.

As it turns out, Dodge is convinced that they can do quite a bit.

"My wife and I don't feel our age at all – we've only been married 48 years," said Dodge with a laugh.

*The "Forever Young" segment featuring Doyle Dodge will re-air the week of May 14. The show airs four times a week: Sundays at 9:30 p.m., Mondays at 3 p.m., Wednesdays at 4:30 p.m. and Thursdays at 9:30 a.m.