[Podcast] Medicare: The Silver&Fit® program helps you keep up with your grandkids - Medicare Simplified

In this episode of Medicare Simplified Jaynie Bjornaraa, PhD, MPH, PT explains a health plan benefit targeting fitness for active older adults



Mick Garry (host): Welcome to “Medicare Simplified,” a podcast by Sanford Health Plan. I'm your host, Mick Garry. One of the biggest joys of every grandparent is time spent with grandkids from toddlers to teens. Keeping them entertained requires a level of fitness that might include everything from lifting a child to running after them at the playground, to competing with them in a round of golf.

Today's guest, Dr. Jaynie Bjornaraa, vice president of rehab and digital fitness solutions with the Silver&Fit program, offers insights on how adults can maintain their fitness.

Can you tell us a little bit about the Silver&Fit program offered through Align powered by Sanford Health Plan?

Dr. Jaynie Bjornaraa (guest): So the Silver&Fit Healthy Aging and Exercise Program is a program that's designed to empower older adults to stay active, healthy and fit. And we have a whole bunch of offerings that we include within the benefit.

First, we've got low-cost or no-cost access to local gyms, YMCAs, national fitness chains, or even boutique fitness centers like Stretchlab and yoga studios – things like that. Secondly, we have access to on-demand workout videos and home fitness kits for those who want to work out at home. Or maybe they want to combine going to the gym with working out at home, or if the weather is bad, they can stay home and work out and don't have to drive. That kind of thing.

I do want to make a couple comments about these on-demand videos we have. American Specialty Health (parent company of the Silver&Fit program) has actually produced these. The majority of the videos that we have on our site are all focused on the aging adult. We've got the ones that we've produced.

We have a team of about 25 fitness instructors who are very experienced in programming for the aging adult. We have put together video classes that go anywhere from two minutes all the way to 30 minutes that are designed keeping all the concepts of aging in mind, so things like fall prevention and brain health and all those kinds of things are seamlessly integrated into the programming. The instructors' ages range from late 30s all the way up to 70. They are really welcoming and just normal people working out, not intimidating. And so we have almost 5,000 of these videos in all types of classes. So it's a really, really nice benefit. Our Silver&Fit members really love them, so they're viewed a lot, which is a great thing.

In addition, we have healthy aging coaching. So an individual could have one-on-one coaching to work on things like stress management or weight management, things like that. We also have a well-being club where we have virtual events that are live social events, educational events, as well as live fitness workouts three times a week. So members can get that sense of community through that experience, which is great. And then we have a whole bunch of other online health resources that can be accessed as well. So we've got nearly 5 million Medicare-eligible individuals who are using the program to stay fit. Not to mention that it helps them keep up with the grandkids.

Mick Garry (host): How does fitness affect our relationships with our grandkids?

Dr. Jaynie Bjornaraa: Just think about what you yourself may want to do with the grandkids. You want to get down on the ground with them, you want to be able to lift them up. Maybe you want to chase after them, whether it be because they're doing something they shouldn't or because you just want to chase after them because it's fun. So I think for those kinds of things the more fit you are, the easier those things are going to be and the less likely that you could hurt yourself doing these things.

Also, if you have grandkids around, perhaps they can get under foot and you've got toys around the house and keeping fit will help improve your balance and flexibility and strength so that you can avoid falls, which is also really important. We look at these things in a concept called functional fitness. So you know, it's sort of being fit and doing things in your fitness routine that really mimic and integrate with your everyday life.

Mick Garry (host): What is functional fitness?

Dr. Jaynie Bjornaraa: So it's really looking at training multiple muscle groups that work everything together. So the full-body things, or a lot of muscle group actions like sitting and standing from a chair. Getting up off that chair – that's a functional fitness movement that is also a strength training exercise. You want to be strong so that you can get your groceries out of the car. So it's picking up bigger items and lifting them up even to a counter or reaching up to a cupboard that you need to put something away in. So it's mimicking those motions with strength training. So you can take dumbbells and you can do overhead presses. You can do lunges to improve balance, make your legs stronger. The squats will help the sit-to-stand motion. Even getting down to the floor and getting back up again is a full body exercise that can be done in a fitness class.

It can include a lot of core training – doing things like planks, bridges, things like that. To really strengthen the core muscles – the core muscles are the muscles between the shoulder and the hips that help keep you stable – can really be helpful as well when you're doing everyday activities or you're playing with the grandkids or you're doing something like swinging a golf club or playing tennis.

Mick Garry (host): How can our members get started with functional fitness training?

Dr. Jaynie Bjornaraa: There are lots of options there. So joining a gym that's part of the Silver&Fit network again is a great idea. These gyms are going to have classes – maybe yoga, Pilates, strength training, dance classes – all those things are going to integrate full body movement, which is really important.

And then also all of our online classes. We have a Take It Outdoors series where we have our instructors doing things from outside and we have one that's called FUNctional Fitness and it's f-u-n in capital letters and then functional fitness. And it really focuses on these big movements.

And so that's a class that is on Facebook and YouTube actually. And then it goes behind login for the Silver&Fit members as well. It's a great class, but we have all these classes. We've got core flexibility, balance classes, cardio, strength, mixed formats, dance, we got everything. And so we also, within the Silver&Fitt program, have these home kits like dumbbells and resistance bands and Fitbit or a Garmin tracker. Silver&Fit members get access to one of these kits free, or sometimes there's a small fee, like 10 bucks. It's great because you can order this kit, you can get a yoga kit and there's all sorts of options, even walking sticks, walking poles so the members can get that as well. So they can pick and choose what they want that supports what they want to do fitness-wise. And the main thing is that you're doing things that you enjoy so that you can stay consistent with it.

The key thing is that, No. 1, there's something for everybody. Whether you're comfortable going to a gym, you can pick the gym you want to go to. Do you want to do like an Anytime Fitness or do you want to do a YMCA? You have access to very different types of places. Certainly some of the chains that they can access are going to have way more classes than something like a Snap Fitness or an Anytime Fitness, something like that. But you can have access to a small kind of home gym kind of community kind of thing, and that can be nice too. So there's lots of options in that regard. If somebody wants to do, as I mentioned, a boutique studio that, you know, with a stretch lab or some sort of yoga studio, they can do that as well. So lots of options there.

Again, whatever the member is comfortable with, and again, if they don't want to go to a gym or they want to supplement their gym workout with all the on-demand exercise videos, it's great. They can do that too so it's not just being this one thing; it's having access to the on-demand classes. The Well-Being Club now that we just started this year is where you get a sense of community because you're actually online in a Zoom format where you're interacting with the instructor, you're interacting with the other members. Members have said this is so great because they feel a sense of community and that social interaction is so important. Now you can get it online as well as in a gym setting. So again, there's really something for everybody and I think that's really the key. We want to meet the member where they're at and we have all that. It's not just the one thing.

Mick Garry (host): Thank you, for sharing the benefits of the Silver&Fit program as part of Align powered by Sanford Health Plan. If you'd like to learn more about Medicare Advantage plan options from Sanford Health Plan, visit align.sanfordhealthplan.com or find more information in our episode show notes.


Align powered by Sanford Health Plan is a PPO with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in Align powered by Sanford Health Plan depends on contract renewal. Sanford Health Plan complies with applicable Federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex, or any other classification protected under the law. This information is not a complete list of benefits. Call (888) 605-9277 ( TTY: 711) for more information.

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