Healthways Launches Petition Drive, Presents Silversneakers Research Findings at National Area Agencies on Aging Conference

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Research Shows Healthways SilverSneakers Participants Healthier, Less Costly to Insure than Non-Participants; Advocates of Wellness and Prevention Programs for Seniors Encouraged to Sign Petition at http://www.rethinkwellness.com.

Our mantra is Fitness, Fun and Friends

Older adults who participate in the Healthways SilverSneakers® Fitness Program are mentally and physically healthier than those who don’t participate, and the more they go to the gym, the lower their healthcare costs, according to findings presented at the National Area Agencies on Aging conference here this week.

Research conducted by the Institute for the Study of Aging found that healthcare costs of SilverSneakers members during the first year of program participation were on average $441 lower than for non-participants. Similar research conducted by a Healthways health plan customer found that members participating in the SilverSneakers program by going to the gym 200 or more times a year had lower healthcare costs and used 30 percent fewer healthcare services than those who did not.

“Our mantra is Fitness, Fun and Friends,” Healthways Senior Vice President Steve Lindstrom said. “For 60 percent of the members in our program, this is the first time they’ve ever stepped foot in a fitness center, and two-thirds of our members live alone. So for the program to work, and to keep people engaged, it’s got to be based on good evidence and it’s got to be fun. The social aspect of SilverSneakers is as important as the physical workout. Outside of the SilverSneakers classes themselves, members get together for bake sales, lunches, dances, group vacations and all kinds of other social events. This is something that is initiated by the class members but we wholeheartedly support their efforts.”

A growing body of scientific evidence shows physical activity can contribute to improved health and functional ability among older adults, as well as reduced chronic illness and disability. Some of the findings presented include:

  • Aerobic exercise improves physical function and provides relief from fatigue, nausea and depression among people undergoing treatment for cancer.
  • Exercise enables people who survive cancer with a means to recover physical function and return to a healthy, active lifestyle.
  • Women who are physically active in the year prior to a breast cancer diagnosis have higher survival rates
  • Exercising at least three times per week is associated with a 32 percent reduction in risk for dementia, compared with those exercising less often.
  • Regular exercise is associated with a delay in the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Older adults reporting either light or strenuous exercise have lower depression scores than those who are inactive.

A report issued earlier this year by Johns Hopkins and Healthways determined that wellness is a state of balance in physical and mental health as perceived by each individual and that a degree of wellness is attainable at any stage of life, regardless of the presence of disease or disability.

In an effort to drive awareness of the benefits of physical fitness, disease prevention and disease management programs for older adults, Healthways launched an online petition drive at the conference urging Congressional support for such programs. To learn more and to sign onto the petition, visit http://www.rethinkwellness.com.

To learn more about the SilverSneakers program or to locate a class in your area, visit http://www.silversneakers.com. For more information about Healthways, visit http://www.healthways.com.

Founded in 1992, the Healthways SilverSneakers® Fitness Program is the nation’s leading exercise program designed exclusively for older adults and offers an innovative blend of physical activity, healthy lifestyle and socially-oriented programming that allows older adults to take greater control of their health. The unique program is available at no additional cost to eligible Medicare members and is currently offered in all 50 states at more than 2,500 fitness centers and class sites.

About Healthways
Healthways (NASDAQ: HWAY) is the leading provider of specialized, comprehensive Health and Care SupportSM solutions to help millions of people maintain or improve their health and, as a result, reduce overall healthcare costs. Healthways' programs are designed to help healthy individuals stay healthy, mitigate and slow the progression of disease associated with family or lifestyle risk factors and promote the best possible health for those already affected by disease. Our proven, evidence-based programs provide highly specific and personalized interventions for each individual in a population, irrespective of age or health status, and are delivered to consumers by phone, mail, internet and face-to-face interactions, both domestically and internationally. Healthways also provides a national, fully accredited complementary and alternative Health Provider Network, offering convenient access to individuals who seek health services outside of, and in conjunction with, the traditional healthcare system.

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Jonathon Burns
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