Extensive fitness routine keeps Bridgeville woman, 85, in good health

| Wednesday, July 16, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Stella Radley smoked cigarettes for 40 years. Shortly after her husband Howard died in 1985, she replaced her cigarettes with a fitness routine.

She started with short walks, but eventually realized swimming was her favorite exercise.

Now Stella, 85, rarely misses a day in the pool, logging a mile with every workout. She begins promptly at 7 a.m., and doesn't end until she has completed 70 laps at the Bridgeville LA Fitness lap pool.

Stella's son, Mike, gave her a finger band counter to help her keep track of her lap totals.

“I'm in no hurry. It usually takes me about an hour, but it depends on how much I talk in between laps,” she said.

There is a regular group of people Stella enjoys seeing at the pool.

“One guy calls me the mermaid of the pool,” she said.

Stella has used her walking and swimming to successfully battle the effects of polymyalgia, a painful inflammation of her muscles and rheumatoid arthritis. When she started swimming, she could complete only one lap in the pool.

“It keeps me moving. I can do anything and everything now,” she said.

Stella celebrated her 85th birthday on May 28 and is grateful she is able to enjoy such a full and active life — sharing it with her four children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

She believes she owes her good health to her regular fitness routine.

“I tell my doctor all the time that he should tell people to start swimming,” she said.

Stella grew up in the era of the Great Depression and was the youngest of 15 siblings. She was the first one in her family to earn a high school diploma, graduating from South Hills High School in 1947.

Stella and her husband were married in 1948 and raised their family in the Brookline section of the city of Pittsburgh.

“My kids all learned to swim at Moore Park,” she said.

Stella worked in several departments, including corporate services, for Mellon Bank before retiring in 1987.

She has been an active volunteer with the Great Race, Brookline Breeze, Southside Street Spectacular and Gatorade Steelers 5K events, and is an accomplished seamstress and cook.

“Cinnamon rolls are one of my specialties. That's what everyone asks for,” she said.

Stella has lived at the Universal Drive Townhouse Complex in Bridgeville for 18 years, so she doesn't have far to travel to the pool.

“I have a nice little garden with pretty flowers,” she said. “You have to make the most of your life.”

Jennifer Goga is a freelance writer.

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