Staying Home and Staying Active With Silver Sneakers

One of my main concerns at the start of the COVID-19 lockdowns was my exercise class schedule. My dance studio closed. The YMCA where I take Zumba and yoga closed. Good grief. Call me shallow, with no social conscience, but to me, those events were major disasters!

Virtual exercise classes

Since that time, I have exercised a great deal of self-control and started doing yoga to a DVD. My Zumba instructor, the saintly person that she is, has been teaching virtual classes over Skype three times a week. It is not ideal, but it is keeping me from climbing walls.

A friend, who knows my habits suggested I look into the Silver Sneakers organization and see what I could find. That started me thinking about age, exercise and, yes, visual impairment.

Exercise and macular degeneration

According to Ong, Crowston et al in their research article, Physical Activity, Visual Impairment and Eye Disease, we folks with age-related macular degeneration normally have lower activity levels. Likewise, the worse your vision, the more sedentary you are. They wondered if there was a sort of chicken and egg relationship between lack of physical activity and eye disease.1

Although I suspect I would have been an outlier on their graphs (I exercise and I still have geographic atrophy). They found that physical activity may lessen medical problems thought to be related to AMD. More vision problems cause decreased activity leading to medical problems leading to vision problems and around we go. The chicken or the egg, see?

Active lifestyle and quality of life

They also suggested the ability to maintain an active lifestyle helps to maintain quality of life.1 That quality of life stuff is what I have been talking about! How do we maintain quality of life in our (slightly) older, visually impaired years? It would seem that if you need a body to do what gives your life quality, it would be wise to take care of that body.

Silver Sneakers

Enter. Silver Sneakers. According to their website, Silver Sneakers is a health and fitness program for people 65 and older. It is included in many Medicare supplemental plans and is accepted in gyms all over the country. I qualified because I have a supplement plan through PSERS, the Pennsylvania School Employees’ Retirement System. It is also offered through more widely available plans such as those offered by AARP. There is no additional cost.2

Exercise classes

Silver Sneakers offers gym memberships. I definitely intend to check that out when the pandemic is over. But for now, their website offers all sorts of online exercise classes. There are “live” classes via Facebook. There is also a video library with recordings of many different types of exercise. Some of the options include yoga, Pilates, tai chi, and even Latin dance.

If those are not interesting to you, they also offer basic, circuit training and, of particular interest to those of us with vision problems, basic balance training. The balance video is only two minutes long but demonstrates 12, different moves that can be practiced so that we can stay sunny side up!

Staying active

Regular exercise is good for everyone. It is particularly good for keeping us older VIPs independent and improving our quality of life. Now when we are stuck at home - and even after this is over - the Silver Sneakers program may be just what we need.

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