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Does Medicare Cover Gym Memberships?

Group of people laughing at fitness class

Staying active can have a real impact on our quality of life as we grow older. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that most U.S. adults over 55 live with at least one chronic condition like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, or asthma. By maintaining an exercise routine, you can lower the risk that you’ll develop these health problems or that they’ll become worse.  

Other benefits include: 

  • Keeping your bones strong to prevent breaks and other injuries. 
  • Reducing pain and stiffness from arthritis. 
  • Managing stress, anxiety, and depression. 

Whether you’ve stuck to a regular fitness routine for years or you’re just starting one up now, physical activity makes a difference in your well-being. This article will look at what adults over 65 do to keep fit and how Medicare coverage can support a healthy lifestyle. While Original Medicare will not pay for a gym membership, you may have other coverage options, such as a Medicare Advantage plan, that will.  

How Older Adults Stay Active 

Everyone has their own favorite ways to stay active, but following some guidelines from health experts can help you get the most out of exercise. According to the CDC, if you’re over 65, you should: 

  • Spend at least 75 minutes a week doing a high-intensity aerobic exercise (an activity that causes your heart to beat faster) like jogging. Otherwise, you can commit 150 minutes a week  to a lower intensity exercise like walking. Aerobic exercise is great for your heart, arteries, and stamina. It also helps you maintain a healthy weight and feel good emotionally. 
  • Strengthen your muscles and maintain bone density with activities like lifting weights, using resistance bands, or doing pushups and sit-ups at least twice a week. By staying strong, you prevent mobility issues that might otherwise make it hard to live independently. 
  • Include balance activities — like walking heel-to-toe or standing on one leg — in your routine. As you get older, you’re more likely to feel dizzy and fall, especially if you’re taking certain medications or living with conditions like diabetes or heart disease. Exercise reduces the chance that you’ll lose your balance and hurt yourself in a fall. 

You may prefer to focus on multicomponent physical activities, which are often fun and fulfilling ways to combine the different categories of exercise. Sports, dancing, and yoga are just a few possibilities that often let you get aerobic exercise, strengthen your muscles, and improve your balance at the same time. 

If you want to exercise regularly but struggle to stay motivated, the National Institute on Aging recommended choosing activities that fit easily into your day and will be fun for you. For example, you could arrange a regular bike ride with a friend so you can socialize and support each other. 

It’s also a good idea to write down a fitness plan and track your progress toward your goals. That way you can hold yourself accountable for staying on track and reward yourself when you hit a new milestone. If your regular workouts are interrupted because you’re sick, injured, or need to travel, don’t get discouraged. Build your way back up to the same amount of activity as before. 

Does Medicare Cover Fitness Programs? 

Original Medicare, the federally administered health insurance system for people who are over 65 or have certain disabilities, does not include coverage for gym memberships or fitness programs. Medicare Part B, which is the part of Original Medicare that provides medical insurance, does offer some support to help you stay fit, such as a dietary assessment and behavioral counseling if your weight presents medical concerns, nutrition therapy sessions for managing diabetes or kidney disease, and coverage for physical therapy after an injury. 

If you want extensive fitness benefits, though, you’ll have to look somewhere else. One option may be a Medicare Supplement plan: These plans, purchased from private insurance carriers, cover some of the expenses that are not paid for by Original Medicare. Certain Medicare Supplement plans also include fitness programs that give you access to gyms and classes. 

Another possibility is a Medicare Advantage plan from a private insurance carrier, which substitutes for Original Medicare coverage and may include a variety of supplemental benefits like coverage for prescription drugs, dental, and vision. Some plans offer fitness benefits through services like SilverSneakers, Silver&Fit, or Renew Active.  

Depending on what program is available with the Medicare Advantage plan you choose, you might be able to: 

  • Work out at gym locations across the country.
  • Attend fitness classes either in person or online.
  • Download a fitness app to track your progress.
  • Connect with a community of other people in your fitness program.
  • Receive a personalized workout plan or coaching.

Fitness is often a challenge as we age, but you could achieve better health and greater peace of mind by taking advantage of the resources available to you. If you’re interested in a Medicare Advantage plan that provides fitness benefits, get in touch with a licensed insurance agent to learn about the options in your area. 

About GoHealth 

GoHealth is a leading health insurance marketplace and Medicare-focused digital health company. Enrolling in a health insurance plan can be confusing for customers, and the seemingly small differences between plans can lead to significant out-of-pocket costs or lack of access to critical medicines and even providers. GoHealth combines cutting-edge technology, data science, and deep industry expertise to build trusted relationships with consumers and match them with the healthcare policy and carrier that is right for them. Since its inception, GoHealth has enrolled millions of people in Medicare plans and individual and family plans. For more information, visit