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Programs like SilverSneakers offer purpose, positivity and a way for older adults to stay on top of evolving pursuits
As we age, staying physically active becomes more important than ever to maintain balance, strength and mobility. At the same time, older adults need to ensure that fitness options support their current fitness level and health status, avoiding a "one size fits all" approach. A program designed specifically for older adults can give you the confidence and support you need to be active, whether you've been working out your whole life or are trying to exercise for the first time.
Fitness programs exclusively for older adults can offer community and connection at a time when those things have become more challenging. They offer purpose, positivity and a way to stay on top of evolving technologies, trends and pursuits. Over the years, some of these programs have evolved beyond fitness to support activities that promote overall health and well-being. SilverSneakers®, for example, offers health education workshops, opportunities for social connection and mental enrichment and community classes at local parks, community centers and senior centers.
In addition, its partnerships with companies like GetSetUp, a virtual learning community, and Stitch, an online and in-person social community, offer opportunities to connect with others who have similar interests.(1)
To understand just how impactful these programs are, you need only ask a participant about their experience. You're likely to hear words like, "community," "fun," "life-changing" and even "life-saving." SilverSneakers, one of the oldest and most prominent of these fitness programs invited its members to send in love letters as part of the program's 30-anniversary celebration. Here is just a sampling:
"You turned my life around and I am very grateful … You helped me lose 30 pounds. More importantly, you offered community, fun, and support, all from the comfort of my home." – Holly
"SilverSneakers saved my life. What a blessing these exercises have been for me. And such an assortment to choose from — thank you so much SilverSneakers for giving me back my health, my life and my hope for the future. Bless you all who have put this together for me and for all our precious seniors!" – Aen
"SilverSneakers allowed me to go to a gym at no cost. It not only helped me financially but got me in better shape." – Bruce
"I want to thank the instructors that are giving us personal attention and love and feelings of belonging. Even though I am just a member of a class of 500 or 300 or 600, I feel so taken care of." – Kathleen
"SilverSneakers has been a game changer in my life." – Ollie
As Richard Ashworth, President and CEO of Tivity Health, which provides the SilverSneakers program, explains, "Our brand truly comes to life through the stories of our members. These individuals make SilverSneakers special, creating community bonds that extend beyond fitness. They constantly teach us new things, and in sharing their experiences, they also show us the true breadth and depth of our impact."
That's not to say that when these programs started, they weren't simply focused on fitness. Mary Swanson founded SilverSneakers in 1992, inspired by her father who survived a heart attack to create a fitness program specifically designed for older adults. It began as a chair-based fitness program in 15 locations in Phoenix and Tucson, and with changes in federal senior health programs, the increasing popularity of group fitness, and growing awareness of the importance of physical activity for healthy aging, SilverSneakers began to evolve. It expanded from SilverSneakers Classic to SilverSneakers Circuit to SilverSneakers Yoga. In 2013, the program introduced more local options with the SilverSneakers FLEX® network, a community fitness network with more than 70 types of unique classes taught in neighborhood locations. When Baby Boomers reached eligibility, they sought fast-paced, higher intensity group exercise classes, so SilverSneakers BOOM® was born.
This legacy of evolution has continued into the digital age. SilverSneakers now engages with members on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest and with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it became more important than ever that this group maintain a sense of community while staying well. SilverSneakers accelerated the launch of its virtual suite of fitness and holistic health offerings, interest-based social connection opportunities, mental enrichment and personalized member content. These changes appear to be resonating, with most members continuing to use these offerings even with the return of in-person activities.
Today, SilverSneakers provides health and fitness benefits for those 65 and older that include live online fitness classes, on-demand workouts and a network of more than 22,000 fitness locations.(2) The program serves Medicare Advantage members in all 50 states from more than 70 health plans and has more than 2 million SilverSneakers.com accounts. Now, older adults are not only staying more active, but they are also living longer, more vibrant and more productive lives.
SilverSneakers is celebrating 30 years in this active aging revolution with a series of virtual and in-person events, a members-only specialty class, an in-person reception, and more. More information is available at https://www.silversneakers30.com/.
Always talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program.
Tivity Health® Inc. is a leading provider of healthy life-changing solutions, including SilverSneakers®, Prime® Fitness and WholeHealth Living®. We help adults improve their health and support them on life's journey by providing access to in-person and virtual physical activity, social, and mental enrichment programs, as well as a full suite of physical medicine and integrative health services. We continue to enhance the way we direct members along their journey to better health by delivering an insights-driven, personalized, interactive experience. Our suite of services supports health plans nationwide as they seek to reduce costs and improve health outcomes. At Tivity Health, we deliver the resources members need to live healthier, happier, more connected lives. Learn more at www.tivityhealth.com.
Empowering Active Aging: The Benefits of a Senior Focused Fitness Program – Next Avenue
It’s a confusing and unnerving time in our world.