Silver Sneakers gets seniors moving - often for free

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Fitness program free for most Medicare Advantage clients; offers exercise, outdoor activities, and more.

We all know exercise is good for our health. But finding a place close by, feeling the routines are too tough, or affording the cost can be concerns.

However, seniors can get into a program that's often just around the corner, offers more than just exercise - and in many cases, free.

It's called Silver Sneakers.

"Right, and left.... Looking good everybody!" says instructor Pamela Dimeler.

Years ago, these men & women might never consider going to a gym.

But that was before Silver Sneakers came to the Rocky Run YMCA in Media, Pa.

Silver Sneakers is a nationwide fitness program for older adults.

And it comes as a FREE benefit with most Medicare Advantage plans.

It is in virtually every YMCA - but in more than 13-thousand community centers, clubs, and gyms nationwide.

There are exercise classes in gyms and studios, but also ones in the water....

And the FLEX series goes outside the gym, while BOOM, geared Baby Boomers, includes yoga and pilates.

The goal: get you moving, and keep you moving.

"You can actually add years to your life," says Dr. Heidi Syropoulos, Medical Director of Government Markets for Independence Blue Cross.

Dr. Syropoulos says when exercise goes up, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer, and colon cancer go down.

And so does the risk of falls.

"I come here for the heart rate, the balance, the wellbeing," says Harriet Kuberski.

"And I've lost a few pounds," she adds/

Kuberski comes every week, not just for Silver Sneakers, but other exercise classes.

In addition to feeling more fit, she's got more energy.

"I'm ready to shop, the minute I leave here, I hit the mall," she says with a big smile.

Kitty Covey values being able to do the lawn and other home chores, and connecting with others of all ages at the Y.

"Better than just taking a walk in the park or something!" she says.

"I do everything on my own - take care of the lawn, do everything, so this really helps," she says.

Dr. Syropoulos says some Silver Sneakers locations also have other perks, including personal trainers, or nutrition classes.

Mary Curcio, the associate executive director at Rocky Run Y, says Silver Sneakers are among the most popular classes there.

And they aren't limited to senior citizens.

"We have a lot of younger adults who come to it with arthritis, or Parkinson's, or Multiple Sclerosis," says Curcio.

"It has a chair, so they have the opportunity to sit down if they need to," she said, but added, "it isn't long before they are strong enough they don't need the chair."

Pam Dimeler has been teaching Silver Sneakers classes for years, and says it is a highlight of her week.

"It's really been a joy to see what this program can do," says Dimeler.

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