By Patricia LaCroix, Contributing Writer
Activity and fitness doesn’t have to go by the wayside as we age — nor should it. Staying active and fit is extremely important to a senior’s health.
In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, studies show that “taking it easy” can be more risky than exercising. Lack of physical activity can mean to more visits to the doctor, more hospitalizations, and the need for more medications due to illness.
Enter the SilverSneakers®, a unique program specifically designed to help older adults stay active, fit, and healthy throughout their lives.
How does SilverSneakers help seniors stay fit?
SilverSneakers helps seniors by making staying fit 1) more convenient and 2) cost effective. The program holds more than 70 fitness classes over more than 17,000 locations across the United States. The “SilverSneakers GO” fitness smartphone app helps participants find classes and schedule activities quickly and easily. Live online classes are also available. And the costs of the program are covered by many Medicare advantage plans.
What types of exercise classes are offered by SilverSneakers?
SilverSneakers offers classes:
- Live online.
- Via on-demand recorded videos.
- In person, through its “Classic” and “FLEX Community Classes.”
- Movements to increase muscle strength while improving range of motion.
- Stability exercises.
- Tai chi (called “EnerChi”).
- Circuit training (alternating low-impact movement with strength work).
Seniors can use chairs for seated exercises and extra support when standing. Exercises can be modified depending on a senior’s fitness level.
How can a senior check SilverSneakers eligibility?
One needs to be enrolled in Medicare to be eligible, so that means a senior must be at least 65 years old to join the program. In some cases, someone under the age of 65 could be eligible if he or she is disabled.
To find out if you or someone you love might be eligible to join the SilverSneakers program and receive membership for free, CLICK HERE to fill out the online questionnaire. You’ll enter the name of the senior exactly as it appears on his or her health insurance ID card, and then your birth date, location, and contact information (phone number and email address).
Your Medicare advantage plan needs to be a participant in the program for a senior to enter the program free of any costs. You can see if your plan is on the list by CLICKING HERE. However, if you don’t see your particular health plan on the list, you can still access all of the digital benefits, such as videos and wellness content, as a non-member. All you have to do is create an online account, and you can do that by CLICKING HERE.
You can also go straight to the SilverSneakers Facebook page, where exercise videos are playing everyday for everyone and anyone. There’s also links to articles on the SilverSneakers blog in regards to eating healthier and staying healthy overall as an older adult.
Be sure to check with a doctor first
Just being “older” doesn’t equal being unhealthy. Of course, all seniors should first with their doctor before starting any exercise program. But with a physician’s approval, SilverSneakers can be a convenient way to make exercise a regular way of life for seniors.