Lace up your Silver Sneakers

Special Fitness Deals for Those Over 65

by Debra Karplus

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Working out at home just doesn't do it for you, and you've called around and found memberships to be prohibitively expensive at most of the local fitness centers. But, being over 65 years old just became more attractive; you've discovered that you are now eligible for the Silver Sneakers program. The Silver Sneakers program,, is a wonderful way for seniors to become physically fit and stay that way in a healthy, social, and fun way with some special activities and events designed exclusively for older adults. Typically, there is no cost to join a fitness center as part of the Silver Sneakers program.

If you check out the Silver Sneakers website, you'll quickly learn that there are over 13,000 facilities around the United States that are now part of this exercise program for seniors, and the number is ever increasing. That averages out to about 260 per state! For example, Champaign, Illinois, a Midwestern college town located in the middle of the state with a population of about 81,000, now has eight fitness facilities that are currently part of the Silver Sneakers program. Whether it's cardiovascular exercise, weight training for muscle strengthening, an exercise or lap swimming pool, group fitness classes like Pilatesor yoga, you are very likely to have access to a Silver Sneakers facility close to your home.

How does a senior get involved with the Silver Sneakers program?

The first step is contact your Medicare insurance provider to make sure you are specifically covered to be in Silver Sneakers. Your policy may not mention Silver Sneakers, so you need to ask. Once you have established that you are eligible, you will want to look on the Silver Sneakers website to see which gyms have the Silver Sneakers program near you. You may be surprised at the many that do, such as the popular workout spot Curves or at some of the YMCAs.

Once you have identified places where you can exercise, you need to decide what exercise programs, facilities, and equipment appeal to you. Maybe you want a place with generous hours (early morning including Sunday or late in the evening or holidays) or a spot that caters more to seniors than to families or children. Or possibly yoga is your passion. If a whirlpool or a steam room appeals to you, then look for places that have these amenities. Do make a point of touring several facilities before you join one.

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What are some other perks of the Silver Sneakers program?

Depending on your Medicare insurance coverage and the facility that you join, you may have access to other services at a discounted rate or possibly even free. A brochure from one facility lists as some of their benefits a free orientation session with a personal trainer and discounts on subsequent sessions and also reduced prices for therapeutic massages at the facility.

Perhaps sometime in the not-so-distant future, insurance companies providing coverage to folks under 65 years old will realize the cost effectiveness of wellness plans, including exercise programs such as the Silver Sneakers program, to promote physical and emotional well-being and consequently reduce illness and frequent doctor visits. For now, older adults have a wonderful opportunity available to them to help them stay healthy.

Reviewed July 2017

Debra is an occupational therapist, accountant, teacher and freelance writer. She is a writer for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners. She also writes for Grand Magazine, has some items (fiction and non fiction) selling on (kindle), has written several travel articles for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and several articles for and volunteers as a money mentor for the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension money mentoring program. Learn more about her at

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