(NewsUSA) - Joanne C. was 74 when she had a stroke in 2015 that left her paralyzed on the entire left side of her body. She refused to accept that she'd end up wheelchair-bound and began rehabilitation, determined to get her life and body back to where it was before her stroke.
Joanne's hard work paid off. She has regained much of her strength and movement and can walk again. In large part, she credits her SilverSneakers Fitness Program exercise classes -- offered through her health plan -- as a key to her successful recovery.
"Having been in good physical shape before suffering a stroke due to SilverSneakers and familiar with many of the exercises they had me do in physical therapy gave me the confidence and strength to persevere through a difficult rehab process," Joanne says.
Numerous studies confirm that exercising, especially with others, improves older adults' physical and mental health. However, there are challenges that prevent many seniors from joining gyms and fitness classes.
By offering SilverSneakers through its Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, Humana is working to overcome those barriers so more seniors can benefit from exercising.
For many seniors on a fixed income, joining a gym can be expensive. SilverSneakers is included at no additional cost to the 3.4 million Humana MA members across the country, including those in Florida and Texas. SilverSneakers has partnered with almost 10,000 fitness and wellness centers around the U.S.
The program is designed for older adults and taught by certified instructors, encouraging seniors who may be intimidated by classes geared toward younger people or who fear injuries from workouts that are stressful for aging muscles and joints.
There's also a wide variety of classes offered, including circuit training, yoga, Latin dance and outdoor boot camp. SilverSneakers members also have access to all facilities and amenities, which can include a range of exercise equipment, weight rooms and swimming pools.
"SilverSneakers has made a significant difference in the lives of many of our Medicare Advantage members, not only in their physical health, but also in their social life," says Lauri Kalanges, M.D., Humana's Medical Director of Medicare Products for the Mid-Atlantic Region.
A recent survey found that 91 percent of SilverSneakers participants reported an improved quality of life. SilverSneakers also has had a substantial impact on the health of its participants, reducing hospitalizations and the risk of depression.
For more information about SilverSneakers, go to www.silversneakers.com.