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Features Health & Wellness Silver Sneakers program helps retirees to keep moving

Gino is assisting first time Silver Sneakers participant Bill Branton.Are you over 65 years old and want to be more active? Do you want to maintain and increase strength, balance, and endurance? Your Medicare supplement may have the answer for you in the form of a benefit program called Silver Sneakers.

Silver Sneakers was specifically developed to provide an enjoyable, energizing program encouraging physical activity for senior citizens. Silver Sneakers currently has 11,000 participating locations and nearly two million members.

“It is designed to improve and maintain health for people on Medicare,” said gym owner Gino Pignataro.

All of us who are older adults are never too old to exercise or be active. As we age, regular exercise should become a more important part of our lives. Exercising, eating well, and avoiding health risk factors can contribute to more enjoyable retirement years. If you are sedentary, overweight or have medical conditions, see your doctor before significantly increasing physical activity.

Retirees who have never worked out in a gym can be intimidated by the array of machines and equipment available to use. Trainers are often close by to assist with the proper use of equipment.

Eight months ago, I went into Body Visions to check on a gym membership. Gino told me about the Silver Sneakers program. With a $10 registration and door key, my Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Medicare supplement began paying for my basic membership. Gino gave me a tour of the gym, and assisted me on each machine I would be using. Then I realized, I can do this!

Cindy Bennett is working on the abs machine.I will never be a world-class body builder, but I can and do expect to add to the quality of life I will experience during my golden years. Let me encourage all seniors to take advantage of this benefit. Membership in Franklin has grown from 186 to 341 in the past year. Participants I have talked to are very positive and enthusiastic about the health benefits of this program.

Let me add a few common sense tips about working out at the gym. Whether using weights, fitness equipment, or aerobic machines, work at your own pace and gradually increase activity comfortably. Wear comfortable clothing. Too much, too quick can be overwhelming. The main thing is to enjoy the workout experience and newfound confidence through this accomplishment.

To find out if you are eligible, check out the Silver Sneakers website at, contact your health care provider, or call Gino at the Body Vision Gym here in Franklin.

The only thing left for you to do now is to take your Silver Sneakers Member ID card to the participating gym in Franklin, which is Body Visions, at 71 Highlands Rd., phone (828)349-4392. The owner, Gino Pignataro, will get you started.

Michael and Brenda McSwain stair climb together for better health.

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