Silver Sneakers

Philadelphia - December 4, 2008 Some seniors are reaching farther and moving their feet faster through the 'Silver Sneakers' program. It's now offered at dozens of local gyms for eligible seniors as an added benefit to some Medicare insurance plans.

Owner of participating gym 'SIS Fitness,' Melanie Marchand applauds the program because she said seniors especially need exercise. "You know when you have a car, the older it gets the better care you have to take of it so it's the same thing with our bodies," she said.

72-year-old Eugene Gardenhire, of Germantown said the program is helping his normally achy back. "It makes it more limber, less stiff," he said.

That's the idea behind 'Silver Sneakers.' It boosts health and in turn can save on healthcare costs. Studies show seniors in the program are more likely to see their doctor regularly, are hospitalized less often and have overall lower healthcare costs.

"I feel better, I'm eating better and believe it or not, I'm thinking better," said 73-year-old Charlotte Andrews.

Plus for many, it's not just about exercise. It gives them a reason to get out of the house and have some fun.

Marchand said, "Class doesn't start until ten, but some people get here at 8:15. They come to socialize before class."

"We have really formed a comradeship between all the girls," said 81-year-old Barbara Nixon.

The program can also help seniors individually save money if it can help get them off some of their medications. Exercise can help lower blood pressure, manage diabetes better and can reduce pain. For more information on Silver Sneakers and participating Medicare plans, visit SilverSneakers

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