SilverSneakers helps seniors get active

Published on Wed, Jun 11, 2014 by Steve Guntli

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The older a person gets, the more important it becomes for them to get active and stay active. For a lot of seniors, this can be an intimidating prospect, but it doesn’t have to be. 

The nation-wide SilverSneakers Fitness program encourages physical health, weight management and social interaction, and chances are most seniors already qualify for it under their current health plan. 

SilverSneakers provides basic gym memberships for senior citizens. In addition to access to the usual gym amenities like swimming pools, treadmills and weight sets, many locations offer exclusive benefits for SilverSneakers members, such as seniors yoga classes or organized walking groups. According to the program’s website, one in five seniors are currently eligible for the program under their Medicare or Medicare Supplement carriers.

Since the program was established in 1992, more than 11,000 locations across the country have signed on, including 16 establishments in Bellingham and north Whatcom County. Blaine or Birch Bay residents can visit Blaine Everyday Fitness at 1733 H Street, or Anytime Fitness in Birch Bay Square. The YMCA is a longtime supporter of the program, and has locations in Bellingham, Ferndale and Lynden. 

Behyar Yassan, owner of Everyday Fitness, has between 40 and 50 senior citizens between the ages of 65 and 85 who regularly attend SilverSneakers classes, and he has nothing but praise for the program. 

“It’s absolutely useful, and people need to know it exists and that it’s free for them,” Yassan said. “It’s really good for seniors who need motivation to exercise.”

Yassan said his SilverSneakers regulars have seen great improvements in their health. Everday Fitness offers SilverSneakers classes on range of movement, balance and yoga, and since they’re open 24 hours a day, seniors can work out on their own timetables.  

Even those without easy access to a SilverSneakers location can still take part in the program from home. Qualified members can apply for Steps, a special home workout package customized for seniors’ needs. Kits come with literature, DVDs and equipment, such as resistance bands, to get you started. 

Additionally, Steps members can access the program’s website, where they can log their progress and compare it to other members to stay motivated.  

For more information, and to check your eligibility under your current health plan, visit silversneakers.org.