Silver Sneakers Program
The SilverSneakers® Medicare Fitness Program (from Healthways) is an innovative health, exercise and wellness program helping older adults live healthy, active lifestyles. Silver Sneakers is delivered through a nationwide network of participating fitness locations (over 13,000 nationwide) such as YMCAs, Curves®, gyms, wellness centers and other facilities. For a list of gym locations in your area click here.
What exactly does the SilverSneakers Fitness® program offer?
Though you already know that Silver Sneakers is a health, exercise and wellness program for older adults, that’s still sort of a vague explanation. Here’s exactly what Silver Sneakers offers you. The classes and amenities below may or may not be available in your area.
- Unique exercises that are designed for all fitness levels with older adults in mind
- Events for you to meet others in your area
- Access to fitness equipment, pools, walking tracks, and tennis courts
- Access to over 13,000 participating fitness locations across the country (you are not restricted to enrolling at one location)
- Nutrition and fitness guidance online
What types of classes does Silver Sneakers offer?
Silver Sneakers provides classes that meet the exercise needs of seniors. You can read about seniors’ exercise needs above. Here are a handful of unique classes that the program offers for older adults of all ability levels.
- SilverSneakers Classic: These classes are set to music and focus on exercises that improve your strength, range of movement and ability to complete daily activities.
- SilverSneakers Circuit: These classes focus on improving your cardio endurance and strength through a standing circuit workout. You will alternate between performing strength training and low-impact aerobic choreography.
- SilverSneakers CardioFit: These classes focus on aerobics with safe exercises designed for older adults, including low-impact movement, abdominal workouts, stretching, upper-body strength exercises, and relaxation techniques.
- SilverSneakers Yoga: These classes focus on Yoga, in which you will improve your flexibility, balance, and range of motion through seated and standing yoga poses that utilize your entire body. You will also be taught techniques in restorative breathing and relaxation to improve your mental health.
- SilverSneakers Splash: These classes are focused on working out in shallow-water to improve your agility, flexibility, cardio, strength, and endurance. You don’t need to know how to swim to join these classes.
Why is exercise important for seniors?
Exercise isn’t just for young people! The National Institute of Health (NIH) notes that regular physical activity not only keeps you strong, but it can also prevent or delay disease, manage stress and improve your mood.
Older adults need at least two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week, according to Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In addition, they should spend two or more days a week doing muscle-strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups, including their legs, back, hips, abdomen, shoulders, arms, and chest.
Seniors can replace the moderate-intensity aerobic activity with one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (like jogging), or do an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.
Whichever combination they choose, older adults should regularly do endurance, strength, balance and flexibility exercises to maintain their health. Let’s take a look at some examples of those types of activities below:
- Fast walking
- Weight training
- Using resistance bands
- Bodyweight exercises
- Exercises ball workouts
- Exercise ball workouts
- Tai chi
- Swimming exercises
Does Medicare offer the Silver Sneakers program?
Advantage plans and some Supplement plans around the United States offer the Silver Sneakers program as an added benefit at no additional cost or an extra premium. To find out if your health plan offers this fitness program, or similar ones such as Silver&Fit, you will need to contact your plan directly or look up your plan by using the Silver Sneakers health plan finder here. The health plans that offer the program varies by state. Looking for a plan that offers Silver Sneakers as a benefit? Check out companies such as Aetna and Humana.
How do I get started if my Advantage plan or Supplement plan includes Silver Sneakers?
If your health plan includes Silver Sneakers, getting started with the health program is easy! First, go to the Silver Sneakers eligibility page here. You’ll need to enter your first and last name as it is seen on your health plan ID card. From there, you will be able to print out your card and find a location near you immediately! You should also receive a card in the mail.
After you have your ID card and have found a fitness location included in the program, just check in at the front desk with your ID. You can then ask for a free orientation, explore your new gym and see what classes are offered. If you end up wanting to switch gyms or try a new gym, you are free to do so!
Along with physical fitness locations, you can also use Silver Sneakers’ online resources here to learn about nutrition, get access exercise eBooks and enjoy articles and videos about health and fitness.