Silver sneakers sound like something a superhero would wear. Maybe even the name of a superhero. Silver Sneakers is actually a fitness program for people 65 and older and it is offered at no cost by more than 60 health plans across the US. These people are superheroes because they want to stay in shape in their senior years.
Silver Sneakers is a free program that offers “unlimited access to every participating gym and fitness center in the network” which means there are over “13,000 locations with unrestricted access to every location”. 1 out of 5 people who are 65 and older are eligible for this program. Medicare Part A and B don’t cover this benefit, but Medicare Advantage, also known as Medicare Part C, may offer this benefit. Seniors will have to contact their specific health plan to see if the benefit is offered.
WHY JOIN SILVER SNEAKERS?
Staying active is important for everyone, especially seniors. Sedentary lifestyles are the cause of many health issues for people of all ages. Getting seniors involved in a fitness program assists them in many ways. First, it gets them moving, which can sustain or improve overall health. Second, it can be a social outing that seniors who live alone or in assisted living will look forward to each time they go. It helps with physical health, but also has a huge impact on emotional health.
Silver Sneakers is not just an exercise class, it also offers health seminars and other fitness-related experiences. “Access to HealthwaysFIT.com is also included as a way for you to track your progress”. Advisors are also available to assist seniors with any questions they may have.
- Unlimited gym access: There are thousands of gyms and fitness centers nationwide that offer the Silver Sneakers program. Within those gyms, classes are offered at a level that is appropriate for the age group. This can include exercise classes, treadmills, and pools, weights whatever is of interest to the individual. Silver Sneakers partners with many health plans to offer these gym and fitness center memberships at no cost.
- Silver Sneakers Flex: This portion of Senior Sneakers includes classes outside of gyms and fitness classes. It may include classes at recreation centers, retirement communities, pools, parks, and other local sites. Some classes that may be offered are yoga, tai chi, dance, boot camp, aqua fitness, hiking groups, and others. All FLEX instructors are certified.
- Exclusive Classes: These are all classes that are offered specifically to Silver Sneakers members: Silver sneakers Classic, Silver sneakers Circuit, Silver Sneakers Cardiofit. Silver Sneakers Yoga, Silver sneakers Splash, Silver Sneakers Stability, Boom, Boom Muscle, Boom Mind, and Boom Move It. Explanations of each class are on their website.
- Feeling Social? Everyone is welcome in the Silver Sneakers community. It is not only an exercise group, but it is also a group of friends who support and cheer each other on. Get-togethers outside of the gym are often planned. Although most people join SS to get in shape or maintain their health, friendships are often an added bonus of the program. Since members are like-minded, healthy individuals, they immediately have something in common.
They also have a Facebook group (@silversneakers), which highlights stories of their members; posts informational links on different health topics, exercises, recipes and brings attention to the SS blog. It also asks for feedback from its members. It is a very upbeat positive feed and people of all ages could benefit from its information.
Overall, Silver Sneakers is a positive and supportive community that all seniors should access if they are eligible. Take a class, make some friends, and share some recipes.