Silver Sneakers exercise photo feature

SilverSneakers improves physical and mental health

August 15, 2013 Denise Pinkney

LoAnn Dybing, Arlyce Widmer and Ethel Wischer may not have known each other if not for their desire to stay strong. The women became acquainted at an exercise class years ago. Today, they are regulars at the 9 a.m. SilverSneakers class at Family Wellness in Fargo, thanks to their Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota Medicare supplement plan.

Ethel Wischer (magenta T-shirt) LoAnn Dybing (green T-shirt)
and Arlyce Widmer (blue T-shirt) gain physical strength and
friendships through the Silver Sneakers class.

SilverSneakers is an exercise program geared to help older adults be active and healthy. In addition to improving their balance, flexibility and strength, the three women enjoy the social outlet that SilverSneakers provides. "You see the same people again and again," LoAnn says. "We do a lot of locker room chatting." 

"For many of us, our paths probably would not have crossed in the things that we do," Arlyce says. "If you don't see someone for several classes, someone will ask, ‘Where's Ethel?' We keep track of people. It bonds us all together."

"So many people don't have family," Ethel adds. "The class gives you something to look forward to. Our mental health is as important as our physical health." Research shows that exercise is not only good for the body, but also the brain. Exercise can improve the brain functioning of the elderly.

LoAnn, Arlyce and Ethel also enjoy getting together with their fellow exercise buddies outside of class. They plan themed potlucks. They've worn hats to watch Prince William and Kate Middleton's royal wedding and dressed up in Halloween costumes.

"We do have a good time (at Silver Sneakers)," Arlyce says. "I get up in the morning and ask should I really go? You go and your attitude changes. You're enthused about seeing everyone and you're ready for the day."

What is SilverSneakers?
With SilverSneakers, seniors who have a Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota Medicare supplement plan receive a "free" membership at a fitness center that participates in the program. You can use the equipment and take classes, including SilverSneakers. You can look for the nearest SilverSneakers location.

If you can't find a nearby SilverSneakers location, you can enroll in SilverSneakers Steps, a home fitness program.  You'll receive a fitness kit geared to general fitness, strength, walking or yoga. What's more, you can create online exercise and nutrition plans, track your fitness progress and find health articles and recipes.