There’s no shortage of available workout options. Here’s why SilverSneakers is a cut above the rest.
There are seemingly countless fitness apps and workout plans available these days that allow you to do everything from track your daily steps to invite a trainer into your home virtually. How do you know which is best for you? Where do you even start?
For many people, these questions become a roadblock, as too many choices can be overwhelming. And even if you do manage to pick a program from the sea of options, it’s hard to know if the workouts are right for your unique needs and goals. That can translate to lackluster results and even make you more likely to hurt yourself.
Before you start any new program, verify that it offers the things you want and need to ensure that you actually use it and get results. For example, if you have a hard time getting motivated to exercise on your own, look for an option that offers group fitness classes — virtually or in person. While admittedly we may be biased, SilverSneakers is a great option.
“I’m a big fan of the SilverSneakers program,” says Scott Kaiser, M.D., a geriatrician and director of geriatric cognitive health for Pacific Neuroscience Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in California. “I’m happy to see my patients get more active in general, but a program that blends structure, guidance, and community, like SilverSneakers does, also makes it fun for them,” he says. “And that goes a long way toward helping them be consistent.”
What Is SilverSneakers?
SilverSneakers is a health-and-fitness program designed for adults age 65 and older that’s included with many Medicare plans at no additional cost. SilverSneakers members can go to thousands of gyms and community centers across the nation and take fun classes designed for all fitness levels.
SilverSneakers also has a wealth of online resources, such as health and nutrition tips, as well as a friendly, supportive virtual community. The goal is to help you stay strong in body, mind, and spirit. Here are five ways that SilverSneakers does just that — and why it’s better than many alternatives.
Recommended reading: 11 Burning Questions About SilverSneakers, Answered!
SilverSneakers Meets You Wherever You Are
SilverSneakers members can take in-person classes across the nation, plus access live online fitness classes through Zoom and a huge library of prerecorded video workouts (available anytime). That means no matter where life takes you, SilverSneakers is there to help make it easier to fit in fitness.
SilverSneakers also meets you wherever you are in terms of your fitness level. For example, class options like SilverSneakers Classic, Zumba Gold, and SilverSneakers Yoga are great for beginners, while Bodyweight Boot Camp, Yoga Pilates Fusion, and Total Body Strength are more advanced. There are also workouts specifically designed to help with common concerns such as fall prevention and improving balance.
In other words, whatever hurdle has kept you from starting a workout routine (perhaps you’re not comfortable going to the gym, or you prefer seated exercises), SilverSneakers likely has a solution.
SilverSneakers Is More Than a Workout — It’s a Community
From your classmates to the instructors you see regularly to the supportive Facebook page, SilverSneakers is much more than just a fitness program. It’s a fun, friendly, motivating community that cares about you. And that’s especially valuable as you age.
“Feeling isolated or alone is, unfortunately, increasingly common for older people,” Dr. Kaiser says, adding that research shows that the more disconnected you feel, the higher your risk of conditions like heart disease and depression. “So the social element of SilverSneakers is a big part of what keeps you healthy.”
Case in point: A study in the journal Population Health Management found that Medicare beneficiaries who regularly participated in the SilverSneakers program had better physical and emotional health, including fewer activity impairments (which is suggestive of a higher quality of life), compared with people who weren’t in the program.
Another study published in a 2018 issue of Journal of Applied Gerontology found similar results, with SilverSneakers participants reporting reduced loneliness and better overall health.
Recommended reading: SilverSneakers Community: 6 Reasons to Get Involved
SilverSneakers Puts Seniors First
Not every workout plan is appropriate for seniors, who may have a variety of unique concerns, such as mobility issues, past surgeries, or reluctance about exercise. That’s why having instructors who are trained specifically in senior fitness is crucial.
“We need different programs for each decade of life,” says Rocky Snyder, C.S.C.S., author of Return to Center: Strength Training to Realign the Body, Recover from Pain, and Achieve Optimal Performance. “Someone in their 70s usually shouldn’t be following the same training program as someone in their 30s. Each decade brings different demands on the body, and an exercise program should reflect that.”
As we get older, there’s often a greater need to focus on flexibility and coordination, as well as resistance training to help build bone density and maintain muscle mass, Snyder says. Getting guidance from a trainer who specializes in what it takes to safely get those results is essential for success and injury prevention, he adds.
Learn more about what SilverSneakers instructors know that other trainers don’t.
SilverSneakers Gives Your Body the Challenge It Needs
While lower-intensity exercises, such as walking and gentle stretches, certainly have a place in your workout routine, it’s also important to continue to challenge yourself, Snyder says.
“When you reduce your activity level, the aging process can accelerate,” he says. That often translates to muscle loss and less mobility, both of which may increase your risk of falls and fractures.
To help combat muscle loss, it’s best to do both strength and endurance exercises. The strength work (lifting weights or using resistance bands) helps build and maintain lean muscle mass, while aerobic or endurance exercise (cardio classes, swimming, or cycling) is great for promoting mobility and improving cardiovascular health.
Sound like a lot to manage? That’s where SilverSneakers can be particularly valuable. You don’t have to worry about creating the perfect strength and cardio plan. Our classes are designed to cover all of the important fitness bases that are recommended for older adults.
The variety of classes offered includes:
- Total-body strength classes, using light dumbbells, resistance bands, or your bodyweight
- Cardio and dance classes
- Water aerobics
- Chair and standing yoga classes
- Tai chi
- Boot camp
- And so much more!
Recommended reading: Take Charge of Your Health Care 7-Day Challenge
SilverSneakers Is Free
We may have saved the best for last. Many Medicare plans cover the cost of SilverSneakers, and some Medigap plans offer it as well.
If you’re not sure if your plan offers SilverSneakers, check your eligibility instantly here. And remember, even if you’re not eligible, you can still get 200+ free SilverSneakers On-Demand videos and stay in touch with us by creating your online account.
The bottom line: If you’re looking for an affordable, fun, and effective way to stay fit, healthy, and happy, SilverSneakers is hard to beat.
Check Your SilverSneakers Eligibility Instantly
SilverSneakers members can go to thousands of gyms and fitness locations across the nation and take SilverSneakers LIVE online classes that are designed for seniors of all levels. If you have a Medicare plan, it may include SilverSneakers — at no additional cost. Check your eligibility instantly here.
Not eligible for SilverSneakers? You can still get 200+ free SilverSneakers On-Demand videos and stay in touch with us by creating your online account.