Does Medicare Cover a Gym Membership?

Seniors exercising using gym equipment

An increasing number of U.S. seniors are hitting the gym in a bid to improve their overall quality of life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), regular use of health club benefits associated with Medicare Advantage led to lower long-term health costs.
For example, Silver Sneakers members who had at least two gym visits per week for two years saved an average of $1,252 in health care costs compared to those who visited the gym less than once a week on average over the same two year span.
However, if you plan to join a gym to ensure you remain in shape during retirement, note that Original Medicare (Parts A and B) does not cover the costs associated with a gym membership. Medicare Advantage plans (Part C), on the other hand, may offer such a membership as an added benefit.

Types of Gym Memberships Available

The senior fitness market is booming, as an increasing number of retirees are keen to stay fit and active as a means of enjoying their golden years. We take a quick look at some of the most common gym membership benefits available on Medicare Part C.

SilverSneakers

With 13,000 participating fitness centers around the United States, the SilverSneakers program is one of the most popular. As well as providing you with access to weight training equipment, tennis courts, swimming pools, and saunas, SilverSneakers has a variety of group classes to consider.

  1. Classic: This involves exercises that can improve your muscular strength and range of motion; the idea is to make everyday tasks a little bit easier.
  2. Circuit: Prepare to work up a sweat as you move through several exercises in quick succession. As well as improving muscle tone, Circuit training boosts muscular endurance.
  3. CardioFit: This aerobics class is gentle on the joints and designed to improve heart health.
  4. Yoga: You will go through a series of Yoga poses in a class designed to increase your range of movement and improve flexibility.
  5. Splash: If you love the water, SilverSneakers Splash is the class for you. It involves exercising in water to improve flexibility and agility, while additional equipment helps improve balance, strength, and coordination. As the water is shallow, no swimming ability is necessary.

Other SilverSneakers options include FLEX, BOOM, and the opportunity to have exercise equipment and an instructional DVD sent to your home.

Silver&Fit

Some plans offer the Silver & Fit option instead of SilverSneakers. Most insurers offering Silver&Fit include it free as part of your plan, although some charge a small fee of up to $25 per annum. This particular program offers you free gym membership to specific gyms/health clubs in your area. Other benefits may include:

  • Fitness kits sent to your home twice a year
  • A quarterly health and fitness newsletter
  • Group classes
  • The Silver&Fit Connected app; this is a convenient and fun way to track your exercise at the gym
  • Healthy Aging materials

Conclusion

The majority of private health insurance companies offering free or low cost gym membership as part of Medicare Advantage do so in the form of SilverSneakers or Silver & Fit. Certain insurers may have their own programs, but you need to get in touch with them to find out more.
It is never too late to start getting active, and a free gym membership can provide significant benefits. The advantages of regular exercise are well documented for seniors, so find your favorite form of exercise and get active today.

Sources
https://www.silversneakers.com/about/faq
http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2008/jan/07_0148.htm
https://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/preventing-alzheimers-disease/search-alzheimers-prevention-strategies#exercise

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