Regular exercise has many benefits for the body and the mind. In fact, experts encourage adults to practice physical activity for at least 150 minutes per week. It’s a protective factor for numerous diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and stroke, and it just feels good. It’s also linked to improved mental health, which can be especially important for those struggling with anxiety, depression, or just loneliness. As people continue to live longer, exercise becomes even more important for older adults. Among older people, exercise contributes to maintaining a high quality of life, health, and physical function, including helping mobility and reducing falls.
What Is SilverSneakers?
SilverSneakers is a gym membership and fitness program that encourages older adults to maintain a healthy lifestyle through physical activity. The program is only available to people with a qualifying Medicare Advantage or Medigap plan (also known as Medicare Supplement Insurance). The nationwide program gives Medicare beneficiaries access to:
- Fitness equipment at more than 17,000 gyms and community centers across the nation
- Fitness classes designed for seniors at all levels of fitness, from beginner to experienced, including yoga, tai chi, and water exercise classes
- Social networking through community events, both online and in-person
- Online resources, including home workouts, nutrition education, and fitness tips
- A fitness app designed for seniors that let SilverSneakers members find locations and schedule activities
- Access to healthy living discounts, including discounts from nutritionists and physical therapists
How Does the Program Work?
SilverSneakers partners with local gyms, fitness centers, and community centers across the nation to encourage older people to maintain healthy lifestyles by participating in physical activities. The program partners with more than 60 health plans, which then offer SilverSneakers at no additional cost to members. SilverSneakers also works with thousands of fitness instructors to offer workouts and classes designed for many fitness levels, from beginner to experienced. Although SilverSneakers is tailored to adults ages 65 and older, people of any age who are enrolled in Medicare Advantage or Medigap may be eligible for SilverSneakers. Eligibility criteria include:
- You must be eligible for Medicare (by age or disability).
- You must be enrolled in a Medicare Advantage or Medigap plan that includes the SilverSneakers program membership.
- You must be living in the United States.
If you are already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage or Medigap plan, you can visit the SilverSneakers Online Eligibility Tool to see if your current plan offers the program. Or you can call your health insurance provider to check if your plan includes membership to SilverSneakers.
If you’re not yet enrolled in one of these types of insurance plans, you can choose to join a Medicare Advantage or Medigap plan that participates in SilverSneakers. Once you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage or Medigap plan that includes SilverSneakers membership, you get all the benefits of the program at no additional cost to you.
To begin using your SilverSneakers membership, you can create an online account with SilverSneakers and download your SilverSneakers membership card. Locate the nearest participating gym, fitness center, or community center and join a fitness class. You can also exercise at a SilverSneakers location on your own. To find the nearest location, visit the SilverSneakers Location Search Tool.
How Is SilverSneakers Covered?
Original Medicare (also known as Medicare Parts A and B) does not cover gym memberships or fitness services, including the SilverSneakers program. However, many Medicare Advantage plans (also known as Medicare Part C) provide this benefit at no additional cost to plan members. Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurance companies through Medicare as an alternative to Original Medicare. These plans combine Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B benefits with extra coverage, such as dental, vision, hearing, prescription drugs, and health and wellness programs. SilverSneakers is also available through a few Medigap policies. Medigap, similar to Medicare Advantage, offers additional benefits that aren’t covered by Original Medicare.