Study Reveals SilverSneakers Fitness Program Linked to Less Social Isolation and Better Health for Older Adults
CHANDLER, Ariz.,/PRNewswire/ -- 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.i Annual Medicare costs are $1,608 higher for socially isolated seniors.ii 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, Tivity Health. "When I attend a SilverSneakers class, I see firsthand 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.
Results of the study indicated that the health benefits of SilverSneakers participation stem from higher rates of physical activity as well as social benefits from the program. In a direct comparison, 20 percent fewer SilverSneakers members suffered from social isolation relative to the non-enrolled group. Members who were more physically active experienced even greater social and health benefits.
"Getting older today doesn't have to equate to a sedentary, solitary existence," said Dr. Joseph Coughlin, Director of the MIT AgeLab. "Our study shows that a fitness program such as SilverSneakers offers a way for older adults to be active and build relationships, which are integral components of being both happy and healthy as we age."
Research from AARP found that over 1 in 6 Americans over the age of 50 are socially isolated. Results of this new research suggest that SilverSneakers represents one large-scale solution to this growing issue. These findings reinforce statements from SilverSneakers members who have already recognized the social benefits of the program:
"It's not just about exercising. There is also a social element that I enjoy and look forward to every week," says SilverSneakers member Rose Okonski. "The friends I have made through the program are an integral part of my life, and I have SilverSneakers to thank for that."
SilverSneakers is the nation's leading community fitness program designed for older adults. The program promotes greater health engagement by providing seniors with a wide range of individual and group fitness options and social opportunities at more than 15,000 locations nationwide.
About Tivity Health
Tivity Health®, Inc. is a leading provider of fitness and health improvement programs, with strong capabilities in developing and managing network solutions. Through its existing three networks, SilverSneakers®- the nation's leading fitness program for older adults, Prime® Fitness and WholeHealth Living™, Tivity Health is focused on targeted population health for those 50 and over. With more than 15 million Americans eligible for SilverSneakers, over 10,000 fitness centers in the Prime Fitness Network, and more than 25 years of clinical and operational expertise in managing specialty health benefits and networks, including chiropractic services, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, acupuncture, massage and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) services, the company touches millions of consumers across the country and works directly with hundreds of healthcare practitioners and many of the nation's largest payers and employers. Learn more at tivityhealth.com.
About the MIT AgeLab
The MIT AgeLab is a multidisciplinary research program that works with business, government, and NGOs to improve the quality of life of older adults and those who care for them. The AgeLab applies consumer-centered systems thinking to understand the challenges and opportunities of longevity and emerging generational lifestyles to catalyze innovation. For more information go to agelab.mit.edu, or follow the AgeLab on Twitter @JosephCoughlin and Instagram @mitagelab.
i Holt-Lunstad J, Smith TB, Baker M, Harris T, Stephenson D. Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for mortality: a meta-analytic review. Perspect Psychol Sci. 2015;10(2):227-37.
ii AARP Policy Institute, 2017. Medicare spends more on socially isolated older adults. https://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/ppi/2017/10/medicare-spends-more-on-socially-isolated-older-adults.pdf
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SOURCE Tivity Health
Company Codes: NASDAQ-NMS:TVTY