Study Reveals SilverSneakers Fitness Program Linked to Less Social Isolation and Better Health for Older Adults
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CHANDLER, AZ - Participation in an exercise program has significant social benefits that, in turn, magnify benefits for health, according to a new study from Tivity Health (NASDAQ: TVTY) and the MIT AgeLab.
Results from the study show that members of SilverSneakers, the nation's leading fitness program for older adults, experienced less social isolation than those not participating in the program, leading to reduced loneliness and better overall health. The study, Reducing Isolation and Loneliness Through Membership in a Fitness Program for Older Adults: Implications for Health, was published in the Journal of Applied Gerontology.
Social isolation has surfaced in the past few years as an important risk factor for chronic disease, dementia, and premature death. Being isolated poses a greater mortality risk than well-known risk factors such as obesity and high cholesterol and poses a similar risk to smoking 15 cigarettes per day. Annual Medicare costs are $1,608 higher for socially isolated seniors. Older adults are particularly vulnerable to becoming isolated after retirement, following the loss of a spouse, or if suffering from impaired hearing, vision or physical mobility.
"The epidemic of social isolation and loneliness has devastating consequences for older adults, and that demands our attention," said Donato Tramuto, CEO of Tivity Health. "When I attend a SilverSneakers class, I see first-hand the social connections seniors make. Our study with the AgeLab shows these social connections are broadly and significantly improving quality of life for our members, and we remain committed to leading a national conversation on the adverse health effects of social isolation and loneliness and identifying solutions to ensure that all seniors age with vitality and purpose."
Tivity Health and the MIT AgeLab surveyed a national sample of over 3,000 members of a large Medicare Advantage plan that offers SilverSneakers as a benefit to its members. SilverSneakers members were matched to non-participants to ensure equivalence on factors that predict isolation. The groups were compared on their physical activity, social isolation, loneliness and health status.
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