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Using the Silver Sneakers Program and Your Health Insurance Incentives to Improve Your Physical and Mental Health

Updated on March 7, 2016
Silver Sneakers member booklet photo
Silver Sneakers member booklet photo

How I became involved in the Silver Sneakers program

If you have read my previous Hubs, you know that I am a female in my late 70s and a retired teacher. I have really missed working in general and working with 'children' in particular. After retiring at 74, I began 'subbing' at a nearby school district in the areas of writing, language, special education, and computer technology. Like others, this school district usually contacted guest teachers via computer calling. We could also call the substitute line or use their website to learn about available assignments.

It was difficult and frustrating for me to wait for a morning call or to repeatedly initiate a phone call or computer inquiry myself. Early in September one year, I remembered seeing a blurb in a newsletter that our health insurance company participated in the Silver Sneakers program. On that particular morning, I was determined not to let others keep me off-balance. I started attending a nearby Curves facility in the early morning four or five days a week. I did call the 'sub line' before and after each session, however.

Opportunities and options are also available for all ages

  • While the Silver Sneaker program is only available to seniors, many health insurance companies offer rewards and incentives to those managing their weight and/or involved in a health improvement program. These rewards and incentives can be in the form of reduced premiums, prepaid credit cards, gift cards, and others.
  • Check the website of your health insurance provider to learn what is offered. If your provider has nothing listed, you can also call the toll-free number. Sometimes, the website has not 'caught up' with new promotions and services. Also, if the company has nothing at the time, mark on your calendar to check again in six months. Health insurance companies are competitive too.
  • Companies sometimes change their group health insurance providers. Communicate with your employer's benefit representative in a respectful way that you and some of your co-workers (if they agree) that a health insurance company offering incentives and rewards would be welcomed.

Understanding your body

I became interested in a Health Rider when one was set up in the aisle of a mall near where I worked. I had knee issues when using our stationary bicycle and thought that the Health Rider would work for me so stopped by fairly often to try it out. I did purchase one and have had it for a number of years and use it five or six times each week. Watching an interesting episode of "The Closer" or other DVDs help relieve boredom. The one listed on eBay looks like mine.

Fitness centers and Curves

  • Snap Fitness has a facility near where we live and the company participates in Silver Sneakers. The advantage to a program like this is that the facility is open 24/7, although during certain times no staff member is present. If there are health or safety concerns, consider taking a buddy or go when the center is supervised. Silver Sneakers does require an attendance commitment, however, which makes sense.
  • Curves is a facility for women and also participates in Silver Sneakers. Their hours vary with the site and there always is a staff member present. The Silver Sneakers program at Curves also requires an attendance commitment.
  • I am NOT recommending any specific facility. It just happens that there is a Curves and a Snap Fitness not far from my home. Check out programs near you. You will be more likely to attend regularly if you don't have to drive or walk far.

Physical disabilities can prevent or interfere with some exercises

I am no longer able to hike or take long walks but have found that walking on a treadmill is doable, resting my hands lightly on the sidebars. At both Curves and Snap Fitness, people with a variety of disabilities use the facilities ... not all of the stations, of course, but those they can use safely while, at the same time, providing exercise, strengthening of muscles, and even some social interaction.

Housework and outside chores are also a way to exercise and burn calories. Examples are shown below:

Calories burned in 30 minutes:

Doing laundry - 73

Bed making - 68

Cooking - 85

Washing the dishes - 78 (assume this is washing by hand)

Ironing - 78 (I love to iron!)

Dusting - 85 (I hate to dust as nothing remains dust free)

Sweeping - 112

Vacuuming - 119 (reading this one made me realize why vacuuming was tiring)

Scrubbing the floors - 129

Rearranging furniture - 204

Yard work - 170

Washing windows - 102

Gardening - 136

Mowing the lawn - 187

Raking - 146

Source of the above information:

  • The treadmill at the fitness center shows that I burn less than 90 calories in 20 minutes. Using the figures above, I burn more calories vacuuming or raking than walking 2.2 mph on the treadmill.

Calorie, fat, and carb intake

When my knees became an issue, I knew that gaining weight would not be wise. I purchased the 2008 edition of The Calorie King for reference purposes only as pouring over the information daily was not my plan. The information in the book was easy to refer to and find. I would recommend it for those wanting to maintain good eating habits.

In summary

I've written a couple of hubs about solving puzzles and playing board games to keep our hands busy in order to limit drinking and snacking too much. Board and card games also provide social interaction and help with memory and mind functions.

Just remember that each activity helps maintain a healthier life!!


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    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 4 years ago from Oklahoma City

      I appreciate you sharing your experiences with the Silver Sneakers program. Exercise and physical activity are very important, but as you pointed out, so is social interaction and mental stimulation. Being able to go to a fitness establishment with the help of reduced or no fees answers all of these needs in one fell swoop.

      Great hub; voted up and Shared.

    • wabash annie profile image

      wabash annie 4 years ago from Colorado Front Range

      Jaye, thanks so much for sharing your own experiences. Please accept my best wishes that you can continue to maintain even when things sometimes go wrong.

      In our area, for example, one can purchase supports and equipment that has been barely used. People often purchase machines with every intention of using them but do not so sell them at garage sales or donate them to thrift shops. These can be very affordable.

      We are living in difficult times so must take responsibility for finding out how to access information and resources that will help us be safe and well. Silver Sneakers has been helpful to many of us but it took me some time to learn about it.

      Again, thanks for commenting on my hub and I will check out yours!

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

      I'm enrolled in Humana's Medicare Advantage program, which includes membership in Silver Sneakers. The hospital with which my primary care doctor is affiliated has a wellness/fitness gym and a heated pool for aqua exercises. Since I've had one knee replacement (that didn't work) and I have other mobility issues, Silver Sneakers is perfect for me. The biggest problem is getting to the facility often enough. It's so easy to blow it off on a day I'm hurting, even though I know exercising in the water will help. (I'm trying to go more regularly, and a friend--potential exercise buddy--is planning to start the program soon to motivate me.)

      I also have a very inexpensive piece of exercise equipment (cost about $25) that is like the feet-only portion of an exercise bike. I can sit in a chair while watching a DVD or Netflix movie and pedal away. Since I can't stand on my feet and walk very long, this is valuable exercise for me, and it's easier for me to do it daily at home.

      I also use a video recommended by the American Arthritis Foundation that has easy yoga and other exercises for people with physical challenges. Some can be done while holding on to a chair back or table. If I get too tired or start hurting too much...I just stop for the day.

      Exercise is so important to general health--it even affects health of the brain. People who have mobility challenges have to do what works for them so they don't lose all their muscle tone and strength. Silver Sneakers is a terrific program, and my Medicare Advantage program offers it free. That's a great deal! I highly recommend it.

      Very good hub, and one that all seniors (and those approaching their senior years) should read. Voted Up++ and sharing.


    • wabash annie profile image

      wabash annie 4 years ago from Colorado Front Range

      Thanks much for your comments, justsilvie. I kept my Health Rider covered with a vintage quilt and then decided to remove it because there is something about seeing the machine to use it!

    • profile image

      Justsilvie 4 years ago

      This is a really interesting and helpful Hub! I also have a health Rider and am a huge fan, but am guilty of using it as object to hold my clothing when I take them off... need to get back on it the perks of the endorphins are priceless. I also love the calorie chart for working around the house. Will check into the program my insurance offers also. Voted up and shared.

    • wabash annie profile image

      wabash annie 4 years ago from Colorado Front Range

      Happy you are taking advantage of these programs. It is in our best interests and in the insurance companies as well. :)

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      My husband and I belong to a 24 Fitness club and our health insurance pays the fees. Twice a week they have a Silver Sneakers class. We really enjoy it. It is a one hour workout that includes stretching, some zoomba dancing, weights and the use of bands for resistance exercising, etc. We like the instructor and are getting to know and like many of the people who attend the class.

      At other times, of course, we can simply use the wide variety of exercise machines. We also have a nice walking path in our subdivision. Staying active becomes even more important as one ages!

      Now...better get back to my vacuuming! :)

    • wabash annie profile image

      wabash annie 4 years ago from Colorado Front Range

      I, too, should spend more time exercising via cleaning but enjoy writing more. Thanks for reading my hub and for your comments.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      Interesting information. It makes sense that insurance companies would encourage us to get and stay healthy. It should be our lifelong pursuit. It is interesting to see how every day activities can add to calorie burning. I actually like to clean house so I guess I better do more of it.

      thanks for sharing this with us...Sending Angels to you today :) ps