April is National Minority Health Awareness Month and what better way to improve your health than to get up and get moving? “Man Up for Your Health! Healthy Men Move Our Communities Forward” is the theme of this year’s event. From Pittsburgh’s own star athletes Hines Ward and Troy Polamalu to President Barack Obama, we see numerous images of notable people we associate with fitness and active lifestyles. The good news is physical activity isn’t just for the young or rich and famous.


In fact, recent studies reinforce the positive impact physical activity can have on the life of the older adult. The more active older adults are, the more successful they will be in preventing the onset of and managing diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and high cholesterol. According to the American Heart Association, African-Americans are not only more likely to develop high blood pressure than their White counterparts, but they are more likely to develop the disease at an earlier age than Whites. With people of Hispanic and African American descent at a higher risk of having heart disease than Whites, maintaining a regular exercise routine and observing healthy habits is paramount for their long-term health.

Older adults can engage in physical activity and healthy living year round with the Healthways SilverSneakers Fitness Program. SilverSneakers is the nation’s leading fitness program designed exclusively for older adults and offers physical activity, health education and social events. Participants in the SilverSneakers Fitness Program are admitted to the hospital less often and have lower overall health care costs, according to a study in Preventing Chronic Disease, a peer-reviewed journal published by the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

With the SilverSneakers premier network, eligible members have access to a variety of participating locations throughout the country. Many sites offer amenities such as fitness equipment, treadmills and free weights, and the signature SilverSneakers Fitness Program classes, designed specifically for older adults and taught by certified instructors. Additional signature classes, such as YogaStretch, SilverSplash and Cardio Circuit, may be available at select locations. A designated staff member helps participants along the way. “Older adults in the community can participate in SilverSneakers classes at several locations, including the Lemington Community Center, Sarah Heinz House, Kingsley Association and the Homewood Brushton YMCA,” offers Melissa Sullivan, SilverSneakers account manager.

(To find out if you are eligible for the Healthways SilverSneakers Fitness Program, contact your health plan. For more information on the program or for a complete list of locations in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, call toll-free 1-888-423-4632 or visit http://www.silversneakers.com.)

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