Saturday, May 22, 2010

YMCA SilverSneakers Senior Fitness Program: Research Shows Benefits (Video 2:20 mins.)

Several of my friends are big fans of the YMCA SilverSneakers fitness program for seniors. SilverSneakers, which originated in 1992, is the nation’s leading exercise program designed exclusively for older adults. Held three days a week at many YMCAs, classes provide excellent opportunities for seniors to reap all the rewards of staying fit while reinforcing relationships with other participants.

Research shows that SilverSneakers benefits participants in general, especially those who have diabetes and or depression. These studies were funded by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and conducted by Group Health and the University of Washington (UW). Over 5,000 participants were studied. Among results of the studies are these important conclusions:

1)    Lower total health care costs

Older Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes who participated in SilverSneakers had notable reductions in total annual health care costs after both one year in the program (-$1,633) and two years in the program (-$1,130) compared with non-participants. Even those who visited less frequently in year two still saw health benefits.

2)    Lower risk of depression in year two

At least two visits per week to SilverSneakers classes during the first year were significantly associated with a lower risk of depression in year two.

3)     -29% Lower hospitalization rate
The cost savings were largely attributable to fewer hospital admissions and lower inpatient care costs with those hospitalizations.
4)    Greater savings with more participation

SilverSneakers participants who made an average of two or more visits a week in year one had significantly lower adjusted total health care costs in year two (-$2,141) than those who made fewer than two visits per week.

5)    Increased preventive care

SilverSneakers members utilized more preventive services.

This video highlights rewarding experiences seniors have while participating in the SilverSneakers program.

Frances Shani Parker, Author


  1. Anne BurnellJune 03, 2010

    This is of course great news, and one of the solutions to our healthcare problem in America.

    It should be noted that seniors should not feel that they cannot benefit from an exercise program if it is not 'means tested'

    Walking for a half-hour per day, and/or any routine that includes moderate aerobics and stretching exercise could produce similar results.


    Anne Burnell

  2. Thanks for mentioning that, Anne. There are also many other exercise programs that focus on seniors. Numerous exercise options are available for seniors who are able to participate in maintaining better health.

  3. Great! I just re-tweeted this article on our Twitter account @yscnetwork ~ I have never heard of the SilverSneakers until now, thank-you for sharing!