Health & Fitness: Oh, Wow, Water Beds Are Back

A symbol of hippiedom is reincarnated in suburbia

Quiz time. Besides Jane Fonda, what sex symbol of the '60s has become a health emblem of the '80s? Stumped? Try the water bed. Yes, that infamous fixture of hippie pads has been transformed in just two decades into an increasingly popular middle-class therapeutic aid. Kathleen Hetland and her husband Darwin of Osakis, Minn., both 56 and arthritis sufferers, sleep blissfully on a water mattress that their children sent them as a gift. Says she: "I absolutely love it, and I wouldn't know what to do without it."

Today the water-bed industry is not only a $2 billion business (compared with...