AGING WITH CARE | Seattle’s Contributions to Senior Fitness

Aimee Sharp
Author | Shield HealthCare
03/07/16  11:00 AM PST
Senior Fitness

By Marla Beck, Columnist for the Madison Park Times

Seattle has a wonderful history of being a leader in senior fitness and conditioning.

In the early 1990s, the U.S. surgeon general determined two out of three seniors were inactive. The fear: Inactivity would negatively affect health.

In collaboration with a King County nonprofit, Sound Generations (formerly Senior Services), researchers at the University of Washington and Group Health worked to quantify the effects of regular fitness conditioning on aging and health.

The results:

•A discovery that there weren’t any evidence-based group fitness programs specifically designed for senior health to combat chronic disease.

•It was incumbent to develop an exercise and conditioning program for seniors, one with outcomes that could be measured.

•The team of collaborators developed a program and trained instructors.

•They solicited participants.

•They tracked participation and monitored results.

The pilot program was started at the North Shore Senior Center in Bothell in 1993. The resulting fitness regimen is called “EnhanceFitness.” Sound Generations manages this fitness program, with scientific partnership from the University of Washington Health Promotion Research Center.

Funding for the original research came from the National Institute on Aging, Veteran’s Affairs, and the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Ongoing research is funded through various entities, including the CDC and the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors.

In 1998, a formal launch made participation available to 1,000 Group Health Medicare enrollees. Since then, EnhanceFitness has grown to 55,000 participants at 572 sites in 39 states. The surgeon general recognized EnhanceFitness by giving it the Nonprofit Innovation Award.

In King County, 300 EnhanceFitness sessions are offered weekly at 60 locations — both public and private. Locations range from community and senior centers to senior living communities. EnhanceFitness classes are free to members of Group Health’s Medicare Advantage Plan. At the Capitol Hill location of Group Health, three sessions are offered each weekday.

Read the Full Article at Madison Park Times.

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