The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

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January 24, 2013

SilverSneakers benefits seniors’ health and pocketbook

TARBORO — Faye and Lawrence Gulley, of Pinetops, braved the chilly weather Wednesday morning and made the drive to Tarboro to work out at the Braswell Center. The couple exercises at the center three or four times a week.

“We make it a habit,” says Faye, 66. She and Lawrence, 68, will be able to work out at the center free of charge thanks to a new fitness program for senior adults, Healthways SilverSneakers, beginning Feb. 1.

“We pay $60 ($30 apiece) per month to do this. With the SilverSneakers, we wouldn’t have to pay anything,” says Faye. Tarboro will have two SilverSneakers locations – the Braswell Center and the E.L. Roberson Center.

“You get to go to any fitness location once per day,” says Morgan Whitehurst, local field manager for the nationally recognized SilverSneakers Program. “We’re hoping that it’s going to bring more participants to both of our centers.”

Faye and Lawrence got to the Braswell Center at about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday and spent their usual 40 minutes running on the treadmills and/ or using the weight-bearing machines in the fitness room. While the couple admits that they are sometimes tired after they finish exercising, they believe it benefits their health overall.

“It’s sort of a sense of discipline, setting a goal and working toward it,” Lawrence says.

“It’s a positive mental thing, so I feel good that I’ve done it,” Faye says. “Your health is the most important thing.”

Faye began working out regularly 15 years ago, following her doctor’s advice.

“When I started having high cholesterol, they said, ‘Exercise helps. Diet helps.’ I took it to heart and I came right on over [to the center,]” Faye says. She has not had to increase her cholesterol medication dosage since she began exercising at the center.

“Research points to the significant health benefits of regular exercise for older adults…Maintaining an active lifestyle helps to in some cases prevent certain illnesses or at least delay the onset of diseases like diabetes,” says Whitehurst.

“As women get older, it keeps your muscle toned,” Faye says Whitehurst added that working out helps older adults maintain their bone density. For Faye, exercise also served as a good stress reliever during her career as a schoolteacher.

“When school was over, I came to the gym,” she said. Now that she’s retired, Faye still looks forward to coming into the center and said she is pleased with the atmosphere.

“The people who work here are always very pleasant, very friendly,” Faye says. For seniors interested in socializing while exercising, the Braswell Center offers Zumba (dance) classes and the Roberson Center offers yoga and line dancing.

“In addition to helping our members stay physically healthy, SilverSneakers also offers a great way for them to socialize, meet new friends and have fun,” Whitehurst says.

For seniors with limited mobility, doing yoga while seated is an exercise option.

“You’re never too old to exercise,” Whitehurst says.

Seniors should contact their healthcare provider to find out if they are eligible for the SilverSneakers Program. Among the insurance companies that offer coverage for SilverSneakers are AARP Medicare Complete, AARP Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Coventry Health Care, Humana, United Healthcare and Universal Health Care.

The Braswell Center is at 1501 Western Blvd. and the E.L. Roberson Center at 305 W. Baker St.  For more information, contact the Braswell Center at 641-4210 or the Roberson Center at 641-4263.

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