Studies have shown that older adults with even a moderate fitness level have a longer life expectancy than physically inactive seniors. Moderate levels of physical activity can help reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure, improve balance and flexibility, and reduce back pain, among many other benefits. Seniors who remain physically active experience less disability and a higher quality of life than those who lead a sedentary lifestyle. In fact, the older you are, the more you need to exercise regularly.
SilverSneakers is a safe, fun program that provides a wide variety of options for this kind of beneficial exercise, especially designed for seniors. More than 40 Medicare plans offer this benefit to seniors across the nation, with over 11,000 gyms, fitness centers, YMCAs and Curves facilities participating. If you belong to SilverSneakers, you have access to basic fitness center memberships at any participating location, as well as special fitness classes, activities, and health and nutrition education designed for older adults. Whether your goals are to lose weight, increase strength and stamina, improve flexibility and range of motion, or just to remain physically and socially active, a SilverSneakers membership can help you reach those goals.
SilverSneakers locations are chosen for their safety, accessibility, amenities, and overall welcoming environment. They have a variety of fitness equipment available, varying by location. Members may have access to weight machines, free weights, treadmills and other cardio machines, pools, saunas, and even whirlpools. To become a certified SilverSneakers participating location, each gym has to go through an extensive process to show it is capable of providing the level of access, guidance and support that older adults need to exercise safely and effectively. Each participating location also has a trained Program Advisor who is usually available Monday through Friday to help you make the most of your SilverSneakers membership.
As well as providing equipment for independent exercise, SilverSneakers locations provide classes that can be components of your membership. These fitness classes are specifically designed for older adults, and taught by certified instructors who are specially trained in leading fitness programs for aging adults. All SilverSneakers class instructors undergo an in-person training and evaluation process. They are all CPR-certified, and are trained in the procedures to follow in case of emergency.
SilverSneakers classes range from 45 minutes to an hour in length, vary in intensity, and offer multiple formats to fit your personal needs and interests. You can choose from Muscular Strength and Range of Movement, Cardio Circuit, Yoga Stretch, and Silver Splash (available at locations with pools). Depending on which classes you choose to participate in, you can increase your muscular strength, endurance, range of movement, flexibility, balance, agility and coordination.
Social interaction can be almost as beneficial to the health and well-being of older adults as is exercise. SilverSneakers programs offer ongoing activities like potlucks, raffles, dances, and speaker events, providing a good variety of options to add to your social calendar.
Life is too short to waste it feeling unwell, lethargic, or afraid to do things because you feel weak or brittle or unsure of your balance. Get out there and get active. You will be amazed at what you can do in and out of the gym after taking advantage of the SilverSneakers program.
Now here comes the good news: many Medicare insurance plans cover the full cost of the SilverSneakers program! That means you get gym membership for free. My wife has a Medicare Supplemental program with United Health Care through AARP and they sent her a SilverSneakers card which she took to our local Just Fitness Gym near our home and she has the same membership for free that I pay for. Some Medicare Advantage insurance plans also offer the SilverSneakers program too. Please check with your medicare insurance company to see if they offer Silver Sneakers.
When you enroll in the SilverSneakers program, you will be provided with a list of participating locations near you, explaining the amenities at each facility. You can also take your membership with you when you travel, to use at any SilverSneakers participating fitness center across the country.
You can get all the details of the SilverSneakers program on the website, www.silversneakers.com. On that site, you can find participating gyms in your area by simply typing in your zip code. You can also learn more about SilverSneakers on the program’s FB page, https://www.facebook.com/silversneakers.