The SilverSneakers® Fitness Program is an innovative health, exercise and wellness program helping older adults live healthy, active lifestyles. At St. Catherine Hospital, seniors get fit, have fun, make friends.
While SilverSneakers is the name of this dynamic group, any color gym shoe will do. The Cardiac Rehabilitation Department of St. Catherine Hospital is now a part of a national program that helps older adults take greater control of their health by encouraging physical activity and, offering social activity at no cost.
SilverSneakers Fitness Program is the nation’s leading fully-funded Medicare exercise program for older adults. Developed out of the need for a fitness program tailored specifically to the Medicare eligible population, SilverSneakers was created in 1992 to engage and reach a population that may have never been to a fitness center.
“We had everything in place for this type of program and were thrilled when we learned we were eligible to offer our patients such an exciting opportunity,” says Fran Clark, RN, manager of the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program at St. Catherine Hospital.
SilverSneakers providers are chosen based on the ability to meet certain criteria as outlined in the national program model, she says. Some criteria include: location – convenience and ease of access; quality and variety of equipment; attentiveness of staff; safety and cleanliness; program designed to help keep older adults healthy, Clark says.
“Attending the program has been a joy for me,” says East Chicago resident Teddy McMahon. “I look forward to coming here. It has helped me stay in better shape, and I can breathe better than I did a year ago. The staff is very helpful and friendly. They are there to answer all questions and give suggestions to everyone. I have met a lot of new people and enjoy seeing them. I made new friendships for life. I plan to continue for years to come.”
The SilverSneakers Fitness Program, a product of Healthways, Inc., was founded on the premise that for healthcare to be viable in the long run, cost-effective, preventive benefits needed to be incorporated into the care continuum. With a unique business model of an accountable, population-based exercise program, a niche was carved between managed care and insurance companies throughout the United States.
SilverSneakers is available in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico at
about 10,000 fitness and wellness centers across the country (such as YMCAs) as well as community centers and even churches. Through a unique agreement, SilverSneakers members also have access to all of the sites in the country.
Results of SilverSneakers
Do programs like SilverSneakers work? According to the latest research and member testimonials; they do. In a nationwide study of more than 9,000 SilverSneakers members, 14 percent reported having diabetes. Forty-one percent of diabetic members reported having improved health after one or more years of participation and 46 percent reported improved body weight.
High-risk sedentary behavior was reduced by 59 percent with SilverSneakers participation. Additionally, other research has shown: SilverSneakers participants utilize preventive care more often, are admitted to the hospital less often and have lower overall healthcare costs. Older adults with diabetes who participate in SilverSneakers are also admitted to the hospital less often, have lower inpatient care costs, and see significant reductions in their overall healthcare costs after only a year. Greater participation in SilverSneakers is associated with significantly lower risk of depression.
Rudy Esquivel of Hammond could not agree more.
“The greatest benefit I have received from the program is the feeling of good health and well being. By being committed to my exercise routine, it has helped me lower my cholesterol levels and lab values. Also during the 10 years I have attended Cardiac Rehab at St. Catherine Hospital, I have controlled my weight and my cardiac status. I feel that I would not have achieved nor maintained my good health status if it wasn’t for the program,” he says.
“The most beneficial part of my experience with the program is the supportive and knowledgeable staff,” Esquivel says. “They are ALWAYS there to help me with any question concerning my health. In addition to the wonderful staff and their support, I have learned and benefitted from their many programs, lectures and advice,” he says.
Linda Hughes of Gary also had rave reviews about the program.
“All my numbers have come down,” Hughes says. “So far I’ve lost 46 pounds. It was the best place to lose my weight because the staff monitored and encouraged me all along the way. The unique fitness programs and attentive staff really motivate me,” she says.
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St. Catherine Hospital
4321 Fir St.
East Chicago, IN