CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Dear Cindy,
My insurance company has a benefit called SilverSneakers, and I know it's about exercise. I am 68 and I'm in pretty good shape for an old bird. I usually walk, but right now have a minor foot problem and haven't been able to get my walks in. I wouldn't mind going to a gym, though I have never done that. I'm not sure I could always get to a class because I still work part time and my schedule changes each week, but I would like to know what the class is like. Thanks for any information you can send me. -- Betty
You're right, SilverSneakers Fitness Program is about exercise. In fact, it's the leading fitness program in the nation for older adults and is offered by leading Medicare health plans and Medicare supplement carriers throughout the country. Certain insurance providers have SilverSneakers as a member benefit, which means they are given a free fitness facility membership. This is a great perk when you consider how positively physical activity will impact your health. You can find SilverSneakers in more than 9,500 facilities such as YMCAs, YWCAs, senior centers, private fitness clubs and churches.
SilverSneakers has five types of classes ranging from 45 to 60 minutes long. Each are set to appropriate music with specific beats per minute, and all begin with a rhythmic warm-up and end with a relaxing stretch. Here are descriptions of each:
Muscle strength and range of movement
This universal class is designed to improve muscular strength, joint range of movement, agility, coordination and balance. Regular participation in this type of class will make everyday activities easier. Each class goes through a series of exercises using hand-held weights, elastic tubing with handles and a small, lightweight ball. Participants work from both a seated and standing position depending on ability.
A muscular endurance class combined with some nonimpact aerobic exercise performed in a circuit-based format. Participants are standing while using the tools described in the muscular strength and range of movement class to strengthen their upper body and alternate with nonimpact aerobic choreography. A chair is offered for support, stretching and relaxation exercises.