This article was updated April 29, 2021.
Staying active is an important part of aging. It can keep you feeling young and agile, and help ward off chronic health conditions like diabetes. But paying for a gym membership month after month can add up, so you may be wondering if Medicare will cover your gym membership.
Does Medicare cover gym memberships?
However, some Medicare Advantage plans—like those provided by UnitedHealthcare and Aetna—may cover gym memberships like SilverSneakers, Silver&Fit, SeniorPHIT, and Renew Active.
What makes these programs different from a regular gym membership?
Programs like SilverSneakers help you bypass gym membership fees by including the membership in the benefits package of your health plan. Instead of paying for a separate gym membership, you just pay your Medicare Advantage premium and have access to an extensive network of gyms across the country.
That means, if your retirement allows you to travel around the country, you can still have access to a gym as long as you find one of tens of thousands of participating locations in your area.
SilverSneakers is the largest nationwide program dedicated to helping seniors get fit and stay healthy through routine exercise. It offers more than 70 types of classes to choose from, including boot camp, circuit training, strength and balance, tai chi, yoga, and water aerobics.
SilverSneakers has more than 16,000 participating locations across the country, so you can choose between Zumba classes at one gym, free weights at another, and swimming laps at yet another.
Some Medicare Advantage providers (like UnitedHealthcare) have dropped coverage of SilverSneakers in recent years in favor of creating their own fitness program. Check with your provider to see if you have SilverSneakers coverage.
Beneficiaries with UnitedHealthcare plans also have access to multiple gym locations through the provider’s Renew Active program.
With Renew Active, you get:
- A large network of gym locations;
- One-on-one personal training sessions to help you get started;
- Brain-strength assessment, exercises, and activities;
- A Fitbit Community that allows you to share your progress and stay accountable with people in your area; and
- Local classes and events on technology, caregiving, nutrition, and more.
Another fitness program that may be covered by your Medicare plan is Silver&Fit, which rivals SilverSneakers in size with more than 14,000 participating locations across the country. Alternatively, Silver&Fit also allows you to exercise at home by choosing up to two home fitness kits per benefit year on the Silver&Fit website.
Silver&Fit fitness plans offer coverage of exercise centers with:
- Cardiovascular equipment;
- Strength training equipment;
- A variety of exercises classes;
- Online exercise and health resources; and
- Swimming pools, whirlpools, and saunas.
SeniorPHIT (Personal Health Improvement Training) is offered in partnership with Aetna Fitness Program.
If you have a Medicare Advantage plan provided by Aetna, your SeniorPHIT benefits may include:
- Two customized wellness plans,
- Two customized meal plans
- An online coach who is available 24/7, and
- Access to thousands of articles and healthy recipes on the SeniorPHIT website.
Benefits of Medicare-covered gym memberships
Medicare-covered gym memberships that cover multiple locations provide something most traditional gym memberships don’t: social support. Many members report building strong relationships with other members and participating in potlucks and other community events with people they’ve met through their programs.
SilverSneakers reports that 94 percent of their members rate their health as excellent, very good, or good, and 91 percent of members say the program has improved their quality of life.
For more information on these programs, contact your provider directly.