SilverSneakers Program Offers a Variety of Activities for Older Adults

By Judie Holcomb-Pack

Dorothy had her magic red slippers, Cinderella had her famous glass slipper, but seniors have the best slippers of all – SilverSneakers!

SilverSneakers is a program that is covered by most Medicare supplemental insurance and provides a free membership to the YMCA or YWCA. It was created to encourage older adults to participate in physical activities to help them to improve and maintain their health. It includes activities and events designed to keep seniors healthy, while encouraging social interaction, a key to living longer and happier lives.

In 1992, SilverSneakers was the brainchild of Mary Swanson, who noticed that after her father survived a heart attack at age 51, he began a program of regular physical activity which greatly improved his health and longevity. SilverSneakers has been around for over 25 years and has grown into a program with classes for all fitness levels and interests.

The YMCA of Northwest NC, which covers Forsyth and six other counties, has been associated with the SilverSneakers program for over ten years. According to Erin Johnson, engagement retention director at the William G. White YMCA in Winston-Salem, the first step in joining SilverSneakers is to take a tour of the YMCA. Staff will check to see if someone qualifies for the SilverSneakers or the Silver & Fit programs through their insurance and if so, their membership at the Y will be covered. SilverSneakers’ and Silver & Fit members enjoy all the range of activities the Y offers.

After joining, YMCA members, including SilverSneakers, receive three sessions with a wellness coach to create an individual program that addresses any health issues you may have and help you meet your physical fitness goals. Personal trainers are also available to work with you at an additional charge. YMCA staff is there to instruct you on how to use machines or to introduce you to various sports, water aerobics, tai chi, yoga, or other classes.

But wait, there’s more! The YMCA offers such sports activities as pickle ball (very popular at Senior Games!), badminton, an indoor walking track, as well as bridge clubs, and outings and organized trips for seniors, such as the fall leaves tour, State Fair, Cherokee, and weekends to the beach. Although physical fitness may get people first involved, the social aspect of Y membership is often what keeps them coming day after day.

Classes for active older adults help with toning, strength and balance, and fall prevention testing. There are also diabetes prevention classes and seated exercises for people who cannot stand or move easily. For people who want to “test the water” before jumping in, SilverSneakers Classic is the place to start. More advanced classes are available when you’re ready to increase the level of intensity.

The YMCA is open from as early as 6 a.m. to as late as 10 p.m. weekdays, and is open seven days a week. There is a large variety of classes to choose from. They even have a mobile app for your smart phone to make it easy to find a class that is convenient for you. Just go to the App store and search for YMCANWNC. It’s easy to get involved at your local Y. The Y always has tours available and offers guest passes upon request.

As Erin says, “Come through the door and we’ll take it from there.” For more info or to find locations of their 16 branches, visit or call 336-777-8055.


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