McLaughlin: Seniors get fit with SilverSneakers - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Opinion

McLaughlin: Seniors get fit with SilverSneakers

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Posted: Saturday, April 5, 2014 6:45 am | Updated: 3:04 pm, Thu Apr 10, 2014.

If you participate in almost any program at the Ahwatukee Foothills Family YMCA, you’re bound to notice a number of people who may look like seniors, but exercise like middle-aged adults. That’s because they participate in the SilverSneakers Fitness program. SilverSneakers is an innovative program offered free of charge by several Valleywide participating Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare Supplement plans, and group retiree health plans that give seniors the freedom to get fit in a variety of ways. In fact, one out of every five people who are 65 years and older and who are enrolled in one of the 68 participating Medicare supplement plans are eligible to exercise in over 11,000 participating facilities nation-wide.

I’ve spoken with a number of SilverSneaker members at the Ahwatukee Y and asked them about their experiences with the SilverSneakers program. Each said that SilverSneakers has played a very important part in their continuing physical fitness.

Hugh Seavers is 78 and has been a SilverSneakers member for 11 years through his SCAN Health Plan. He’s on the treadmill five days a week and works out on about 15 other machines three days a week. He said before becoming eligible for his SilverSneakers membership, he paid $50 per month for his Y membership. Now it’s free. Along with his nutritional plan, Hugh has lost 28 pounds and feels great. He recommends SilverSneakers and the Y to anyone who is eligible.

Mary Ann Reith, who is 74 and a 50-year Valley resident, has received free SilverSneakers as a perk through her Humana Healthcare Plan for the last three years. She works out on the treadmill, the circuit machines, and seven weight machines.

“I’ve always been super active and have watched what I eat. I would absolutely recommend SilverSneakers as a wonderful benefit.”

She says she likes working out at the Y because “it doesn’t seem to get overcrowded like so many other places.”

Aline Osborn, 70 years young, and Faye Verska, 68 years young, both attend water aerobics every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday year-round at the Y. They said through their water aerobics program, they have found eight great friends with whom they socialize throughout the week. In fact, Aline, who used to live in Maricopa and who drove to the Y, has moved to Phoenix to be closer to her new-found friends. She became a SilverSneakers member through AAPR United Healthcare. Faye joined the “SilverSneakers club” two years ago through her United Healthcare Arizona State Retirement Plan. The ladies said that they couldn’t afford a fitness membership if it wasn’t for SilverSneakers.

Some health care plans in the Valley that include free SilverSneakers memberships to seniors are AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) Medicare Complete by United Healthcare, AARP Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan, Care More Health Plan, Health Net, Humana, SCAN Health Plan, and United Healthcare Group Retiree Plan. Because physically inactive people are twice as likely to develop coronary heart disease as regularly active people, membership in SilverSneakers has made an extreme difference in thousands of people’s lives. If you are eligible for Medicare and have a supplemental plan, you’re encouraged to check out your plan documents or call your plan administrator and ask about the availability of a free SilverSneakers membership. You’ll find the Ahwatukee YMCA offers a wide selection of resistance and cardiovascular training equipment, year-round swimming, and a variety of group exercise programs suited for virtually every need and capability.

• Mick McLaughlin has been a resident of Ahwatukee for more than 17 years. After retiring from working in the corporate world, he now spends his “pay back years” volunteering. He is a board member of both the Ahwatukee Foothills Family YMCA and the Foothills Club West HOA, and is very active in St. Benedict Parish.

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