Denver’s aging adults can now get down for free at the city’s rec centers

Starting today, a Denver resident over 60 need only flash a photo ID to enter and stay active.

86 year-old Mary Robinson dances during a "SilverSneakers" activity at the end of the program. A press conference announcing the inception of Denver Prime, free access to rec centers for Denver residents over 60. Dec. 6, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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86 year-old Mary Robinson dances during a "Silver Sneaker" activity at the end of the program. A press conference announcing the inception of Denver Prime, free access to rec centers for Denver residents over 60. Dec. 6, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) denver; colorado; denverite; kevinjbeaty; rec center; aging; lowry field;
86 year-old Mary Robinson dances during a “SilverSneakers” activity at the end of a press conference announcing the inception of Denver Prime, free access to recreation centers for Denver residents over 60. Montclair Rec Center, Dec. 6, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Young people aren’t the only Denverites who now have free access to the city’s 27 (soon to be 28) rec centers. Today Mayor Michael Hancock announced My Denver Prime, a new program that will give residents 60 and older open access to the city’s many public pools, gyms and healthy activities. Starting today, a Denver resident over 60 need only flash a photo ID to enter and stay active.

This is about more than simple exercise

Since 2000, Colorado’s senior population (65 and older) has grown faster than its total population. As of 2015, Baby Boomers and Millennials were nearly neck-and-neck in total population and numbers of people in the workforce (Boomers actually outrank Millennials on both counts). The Denver Commission on Aging estimates that 1 in 4 Denverites will be over 60 by 2030.

That growth means changes to the city that might not seem obvious at first glance. Think about large swaths of mature, potentially unemployed people across Denver: there will be more traffic during the day, more need for service workers and growing strain on healthcare systems.

Mayor Michael Hancock speaks at a press conference announcing the inception of Denver Prime, free access to rec centers for Denver residents over 60. Dec. 6, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) denver; colorado; denverite; kevinjbeaty; rec center; aging; lowry field;
Mayor Michael Hancock speaks at the podium. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

These multiple facets are reasons why the city has taken a holistic approach to preempting potential problems, said Maureen Spiegleman, incoming chair of the Commission on Aging. The city, she said, is gearing up to release a new survey of needs for which they interviewed every department and agency.

“We believe older residents are a natural resource whose talents and contributions to the life of Denver are fundamental to its health and vitality,” Spiegleman said to a group of advocates inside the Montclair Rec Center gym. “Many attributes that make Denver friendlier to older adults also will enhance its livability for all ages.”

Maureen Spiegleman (right), incoming chair of the Denver Commission on Aging, dances as part of a Silver Sneaker presentation during the press conference. Denver announces the inception of Denver Prime, free access to rec centers for Denver residents over 60. Dec. 6, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) denver; colorado; denverite; kevinjbeaty; rec center; aging; lowry field;
Maureen Spiegleman (right), incoming chair of the Denver Commission on Aging, dances as part of a SilverSneakers activity at the end of the program. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Crucially, she said, Denver Prime will help curb rising healthcare spending.

“The more active a senior is, the less medical ills that we have to attend to,” said Spiegleman, who spent a career in finance and likes “getting into the weeds.” A few hours of exercise, she said, “makes a tremendous difference, dollar-wise.”

That encompasses more than just working out. Social support and inclusion, she said, are among the key determinants of health outlined by the World Health Organization. Getting aging adults to mingle with the young people Denver has already ushered in is just as important to longevity and as lifting weights.

Plus, she said, that kind of social interaction makes getting out more fun, all the more reason to open the floodgates for Denver’s public facilities.

Correction: The name of the post-press-conference program was changed from the incorrect “Silver Sneaker” to the correct “SilverSneakers.”

Kevin Beaty

Author: Kevin Beaty

Kevin Beaty is a media producer with experience in a variety of settings spanning Hollywood film sets to international backpack journalism expeditions. He is on a never-ending quest to meld artful imagery, functional design and intimate storytelling. His biggest struggle in any given moment is whether to shoot stills or video. Find him on Twitter and Instagram at @kevinjbeaty.