Healthy Habits through SilverSneakers
When you’ve been married for 59 years, you develop a lot of the same habits. For
Charlie and Shirley Rule, those habits include fitness, fun and friendship through
the SilverSneakers® program at Fitness Unlimited in Benton, Ark.
The Rules started participating in the SilverSneakers program about three years
ago when Shirley found a notice about it in the mail. "I figured Charlie wouldn’t
want to go, but he said he wanted to try it." The two have been fixtures in the
SilverSneakers program ever since. Membership in SilverSneakers is a benefit of
Medi-Pak and Medi-Pak Advantage (PFFS) coverage.
The Rules try to go to SilverSneakers classes as often as four times a week. Charlie
provides entertainment by printing out jokes and funny stories for Barbara Kane,
their instructor, to read out loud at the beginning of class.
Enrollment in SilverSneakers is a benefit of Medi-pak
and Medi-Pak Advantage (PFFS) coverage.
Shirley said she and Charlie have both had their share of surgeries and medical
problems, and sometimes aren’t confident in their stability, but the SilverSneakers
classes allow participants to use a chair to stay balanced. If they feel comfortable,
the participants can stand, but when they are unsure, they can sit. Yoga movements
have been modified to stretch muscles from a seated position and Shirley said the
cardio pro¬gram is quite a workout even using a chair.
Barbara said she has seen the improvements her participants have made by adding
exercise to their lives.
"Everyone says it improves their flexibility and gives them more energy to do things
they want to do in life," she said. She said the exercises to loosen the neck muscles
are extremely important for the participants who still are driving because it keeps
them safe on the road. "Many of them tell me, 'I almost fell but was able to catch
For Charlie, who retired from the railroad and serviced both aluminum plants in
the area, going to SilverSneakers is a chance to catch up with many friends and
neighbors, "and find out what is going on in the community." Shirley said she has
tried exercising at home, but can’t stay motivated. "I like to walk and visit with
people," she said.
Barbara said the group extends beyond the classroom and has gotten together for
meals and movies on occasion. For those who have lost their husband or wife, it
may be the only time they get hugs during the week. "This is a great group," Barbara
said. For Charlie and Shirley, SilverSneakers is a habit they will stick with for
the fun, fitness and friendship. As Charlie said, "We hate to miss a class!"
To enroll in SilverSneakers, Medi-Pak and Medi-Pak Advantage members can go to a
participating fitness center near them and show their ID card. Fitness center staff
will assist with enrollment and provide tours of the locations. Because new fitness
centers are being added to the program regularly, members can go online to silversneakers.com to find all participating locations in
Arkansas. You also can call customer service
to find a participating location near you.