SilverSneakers is a fitness program designed specifically for older adults. It helps them improve their fitness level, reduce the risk of falling and enrich their social lives. The program name is a helpful reminder that graying seniors should dress appropriately when exercising. Participants should wear loose, comfortable clothing as well as sneakers that have rubber soles for good traction and stability.
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How to Join
More than 40 Medicare health plans offer this program to encourage seniors to stay physically active and agile. To enroll, they bring their health plan identification card to a SilverSneakers participating fitness location. They can choose from more than 9,000 YMCAs, Curves or fitness centers from across the country. Membership includes a basic fitness membership, access to SilverSneakers group fitness classes, health education seminars and other social events.
SilverSneakers Steps Program
If a person does not live close to one of the participating facilities, she can join the SilverSneakers Steps program. Anyone who registers for the Steps program receives a kit, which includes an exercise DVD, resistance bands and a pedometer. These tools allow each person to tailor workouts to match individual capabilities and lifestyle. This program is geared for anyone who is unable to leave the house or who doesn’t have easy access to a SilverSneakers location.
Group Fitness Classes
The heart of the SilverSneakers program is the group fitness classes taught by certified instructors. The program includes five customized classes ranging from strength training and low-impact aerobics to yoga and aquatics. To add resistance to the indoor workouts, participants use equipment such as handheld weights, elastic tubing with handles and a rubber ball. In most classes, a chair is provided for standing support and for performing seated exercises and stretches. The pool-based class, SilverSplash, takes place in shallow water using a kickboard and does not require swimming skills. All classes are typically 45 to 60 minutes and are offered at least twice a week.
Regular Exercise Reduces Falls
The risk of falling and of being seriously injured increases with age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 30 percent of U.S. adults 65 and older fall each year, often resulting in fractures, head trauma and premature death. Falls are the No. 1 cause of injury death among older adults. The SilverSneakers program is designed to reduce this risk by helping seniors improve their strength, flexibility, balance, endurance and coordination.
Regular exercise has long been established as a way of improving a person’s overall health. This fact is underscored by the numerous Medicare health plans that offer the SilverSneakers program to its members free of charge. The program encourages members to lose weight, quit smoking and reduce stress through its online support. It can also improve older adults' mental health by providing opportunities for them to socialize with peers and make new friends. The SilverSneakers slogan is “Get fit, have fun, make friends!”