Seniors gain their health back with Silver Sneakers program
MUNCY – Ask any senior from Silver Sneakers and they will tell you, “It’s all about fun, fitness and friendship,” and in that order. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning at the East Lycoming YMCA, a core group of people gather together for an hour to get their heart rate up and their muscles toned with fitness instructor Diana Logan. Everyone gets to work according to their own ability. It is not just for seniors but for anyone who wants to improve the quality of their overall health. It is perfect for someone who is just getting out of rehabilitative care from a hip or knee surgery, and needs to get things back in motion again.
“They can sit, stand in place or move around however they can,” said Logan who starts the group out with some warm-up and breathing exercises standing or anchored to a chair, whichever is more comfortable for the individual. The music alone will get everyone moving. It is so upbeat, one can’t help stomping and marching their feet and clapping to the rhythm, and Logan makes sure no one is left behind. She stimulates the hour with constant movement using a combination of hand weights, balls, and bands, but not too rigorous.
“It is all about working the muscles, muscles we use normally everyday such as hands and fingers,” said Logan. She demonstrates to the class how to hold all five fingers on each hand by grasping the ball at each end with a firm grip working the muscles in each finger. Raising the ball up and down over your head, twisting and turning it, marching in place or sitting in the chair will help strengthen joints and prevent stiffness. It also improves hand and eye coordination according to Logan who has taught group fitness for 25 years.
She ends the session with a cool down, bringing the heart rate down slowly while stretching the muscles gently. “Stand tall, point those toes,” she says through her microphone working on balance. “Push on that heel, reach from the waist, not the hip,” and soon the cool down ends with the participants resting their backs against the balls on the backs of their chairs while the music slows down to a relaxing pace.
“I enjoy coming for this class. They do a nice job here and take care of us,” said Nancy McCarty who comes with her husband Gordon every week. “We both come as a couple and we need the activity 3 times a week,” she said. “It is much easier to do housework now,” said Gordon.
They meet in the Margaret E. Waldron Gymnasium funded by the Williamsport Lycoming Foundation, and each month the group has a social hour in the Y’s community room.
Last Friday morning they had a brown-bag lunch and discussed ways on how the program has really turned around their health. Also each month a success story is placed on the bulletin board located at the main entrance of the YMCA building. This month Yvonne Poust acknowledged that the program is also good for her mental health. Her photo and her story can be seen by all who walk into the Y.
Diane Kettler shared her battle with fibromyalgia, and how after one year coming to Silver Sneakers, she is no longer in any pain. Her husband, Jack, said, “My wife loves to exercise now.” Prior to coming to Silver Sneakers, Kettler admitted she couldn’t even lift her groceries out of the cart.
Other perks include planned trips, cruises and tours. One of the members, Sue Berkholder, works for AAA and she is helping the group plan a cruise together the first week in May. “Don’t worry, we will be exercising on the ship,” announced Logan who will be joining them. They also had a zumba party, a patriotic party, a Crosscutters fun night and a Christmas party.
The program can also be supplemented by certain insurances if you are on medicare according to customer service representative, Jeanne Bratton. “You can also participate in Silver Sneakers with a Y membership or just come to a class and pay a small fee each time,” said Bratton.
Many more health testimonials could be heard. Others said that they are no longer too stiff from sitting, while some said that the program has given them strength again. Another gentleman who is called Earl said that after he suffered a stroke in 2008 he could hardly move. “Thanks to Silver Sneakers, I now have full range of motion in my left shoulder.” Another said that he hasn’t felt this good in 15 years, and still another couple remarked how the program changed their lives completely. Cholesterol goes down, blood pressure gets lowered and weight drops for sure.
The group agreed in consensus that it is because of Diane Logan. “She has lots of energy, and that is contagious.”