Study on 27,000 Americans Shows SilverSneakers Program Keeps Medicare Advantage Members Healthier, More Active and Independent

  Study on 27,000 Americans Shows SilverSneakers Program Keeps Medicare
  Advantage Members Healthier, More Active and Independent

SilverSneakers Solution Addresses Myriad of Challenges Facing America’s Aging

Business Wire

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- April 11, 2013

According to findings from a three-year study published in the peer-reviewed
journal, Population Health Management, the SilverSneakers fitness program is
an effective approach to improving seniors’ physical and mental health. One of
the study’s most significant findings was from a multiyear analysis that
suggests the program helps to slow or may even reverse the declining health of
older Americans. Several study measures indicate that SilverSneakers
participants’ health and abilities are declining at a significantly slower
rate than similar Medicare Advantage plan beneficiaries who do not participate
in SilverSneakers.

The breakthrough study shows older adults who participate in SilverSneakers
are healthier, higher functioning and more independent, when compared with
similar adults enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans who do not participate in
the SilverSneakers program. The research, conducted on 5,586 SilverSneakers
participants and a matched group of 22,344 other Medicare Advantage
beneficiaries for comparison, demonstrates SilverSneakers participants perform
better relative to non-SilverSneakers participants in simple but important
activities of daily living, such as bathing, walking, climbing stairs,
dressing, eating, getting in or out of chairs and using the restroom.

“The results of this study highlight the promise as well as urgency for a
national redefinition of our expectations for older age – one that encourages
individuals, families and communities to invest in our future health and
well-being through good nutrition, exercise, social interaction and community
support and involvement,” said Joseph Coughlin, Director of the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology’s AgeLab. He went on to comment, “Community-based
solutions, such as SilverSneakers, represent a realistic, cost-saving and
engaging strategy for older Americans to maintain their health and
independence, improving the quality of their lives and their well-being, as
well as all those who care about them.”

The study also clearly illustrates:

  *SilverSneakers members report significantly less decline in health status
    and emotional health over three years
  *SilverSneakers members have fewer social and activity/work limitations
  *SilverSneakers members reduced their disability levels during the study,
    while the comparison group have increased disability levels
  *SilverSneakers members who exercise more frequently demonstrate
    significantly better trends in all assessed measures (i.e., Health Status,
    Functioning—Climbing Stairs, Work or Activity Limitations because of
    Health) relative to members who exercise less frequently

“Our senior population is increasing rapidly, which, of course, spotlights the
challenge of meeting the healthcare needs of today’s and future retirees,”
said Mary R. Grealy, President of the Healthcare Leadership Council, a
coalition of chief executives from the nation’s leading healthcare companies
and organizations. “This study, and the success of the SilverSneakers program,
underscores the importance of not just maintaining seniors’ health, but
actually improving it. Understanding the impact SilverSneakers is having on
its participants should lead us toward a national conversation on how to
enable older Americans to elevate their well-being, maintain their
independence and, in so doing, lessen long-term care costs.”

Studies demonstrate that one of the major economic challenges for the U.S.
healthcare system is that Americans are living longer lives than ever before,
but with more chronic diseases. Just under a decade ago, seniors accounted for
only 12% of the American population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, but
by 2050, that figure is expected to grow to 21%.

“Our evaluation of SilverSneakers shows that the program can serve to improve
seniors’ quality of life and reduce the burden associated with declining
health and capabilities,” said Elizabeth Rula, PhD, co-author of the study and
Principle Investigator of Healthways Center for Health Research. “With the
aging of baby boomers, our conclusions support that SilverSneakers can
positively influence the health and extend the ability of seniors to function
independently without the burden of disability. SilverSneakers does not just
provide access to a gym; it fosters and sustains engagement within an
environment of social support through classes that cater to the needs of
seniors, such as improving strength and balance with a focus on fall

Previous studies have linked SilverSneakers participation to fewer hospital
admissions, lower health care costs and decreased risk of depression. Using
data collected from annual member surveys, this new study examines the impact
of the SilverSneakers program on the physical and emotional health activities
and daily living activities of participating seniors. Compared to earlier
research, this study looks at a new set of outcomes and uses a national sample
of similar non-participating seniors as a comparison group for valid
evaluation. These new findings reveal how participation benefits participants
in their daily lives and can contribute to improving their overall well-being.

Multi-media offerings of the study’s outcomes  can be found at Healthways

About Healthways

Healthways (NASDAQ: HWAY) is the largest independent global provider of
well-being improvement solutions. Dedicated to creating a healthier world one
person at a time, the Company uses the science of behavior change to produce
and measure positive change in well-being for our customers, which include
employers, integrated health systems, hospitals, physicians, health plans,
communities and government entities. We provide highly specific and
personalized support for each individual and their team of experts to optimize
each participant’s health and productivity and to reduce health-related costs.
Results are achieved by addressing longitudinal health risks and care needs of
everyone in a given population. The Company has scaled its proprietary
technology infrastructure and delivery capabilities developed over 30 years
and now serves approximately 40 million people on four continents. Learn more

About SilverSneakers

Founded in 1993 and serving more than 10 million eligible members,
SilverSneakers offers convenient access to more than 15,000 participating
fitness and wellness facilities nationwide. Using proven methodologies based
upon more than 16 years of science and outcomes, SilverSneakers engages
participants in active behavior change through access to a variety of physical
activity venues and senior-specific programming that incorporates physical
fitness and social experiences. Learn more at


Kelly Motley, 615-614-4984
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