SilverSneakers is a free fitness program that provides access to thousands of gyms, workout classes, swimming pools, tennis courts, and other facilities for anybody with a participating Medicare plan. In doing so, SilverSneakers promotes physical activity and social interaction for older adults, allowing them to perpetuate their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Eligible seniors can utilize these benefits from the comfort of their homes through the SilverSneakers Go app or on-location with help from trained instructors at affiliated fitness centers nationwide.
Table of Contents
- The Importance of Keeping Fit as You Age
- How Does the SilverSneakers Program Work?
- What Medicare Plans Cover SilverSneakers?
- Types of Exercise Classes Available Through SilverSneakers
- How Much Does the SilverSneakers Program Cost?
- How to Join the SilverSneakers Program
- Alternatives to SilverSneakers
- All in All
- Frequently Asked Questions
The Importance of Keeping Fit as You Age
Regular exercise can prevent or delay many health problems typically associated with aging and gives seniors the strength to perform basic activities of daily living without relying on others. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), older adults must partake in 150 weekly minutes of moderate-intensity activity like power walking or 75 weekly minutes of vigorous activity like hiking or jogging to remain fit.
Notably, SilverSneakers beneficiaries have displayed better physical, mental, and emotional health patterns than similarly aged peers without access to the program. Likewise, program participants have proven to maintain their independent ability to dress, bathe, and perform other essential functions further into old age, preserving their overall quality of life.
How Does the SilverSneakers Program Work?
SilverSneakers members can access thousands of participating gyms, community centers, and in-person workout classes nationwide or register for online courses from the comfort and safety of their own homes. However, to take advantage of the SilverSneakers program, you must meet the general eligibility requirements and know where to find affiliated facilities.
Only individuals enrolled in a compliant Medicare plan have SilverSneakers eligibility. While the program promotes physical activity among seniors 65 and older, it does not impose age limits on younger people who receive Medicare for any qualifying disability. Before entering a SilverSneakers facility, you must present your physical membership card or digital ID through the SilverSneakers Go app.
How to Find a Participating Gym
To find nearby gyms, health centers, and exercise classes associated with the SilverSneakers program, use their online location tool or download the free SilverSneakers Go app for IOS or Android. Notably, SilverSneakers members can enroll in as many participating facilities as necessary. For example, you could use weights in one gym, play tennis at another, and take group nutrition classes at your local recreation center.
What Medicare Plans Cover SilverSneakers?
Original Medicare never provides SilverSneakers coverage. These fitness benefits only occasionally come included in either of the following plan types:
- Medicare Advantage: Unlike Original Medicare, which receives federal funding, private companies fund and structure Medicare Advantage plans independently. While Medicare Advantage must legally offer minimum equivalent benefits to Original Medicare, some policies provide supplementary services such as dental care, grocery allowances, and SilverSneakers at little to no additional cost.
- Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap): Private companies also sell Medicare Supplement, or Medigap, policies to help fill “gaps” in Original Medicare coverage left by out-of-pocket fees like coinsurances and deductibles. Though less common, some specific Medigap policies also include SilverSneakers benefits.
Types of Exercise Classes Available Through SilverSneakers
SilverSneakers includes general memberships at gyms, community centers, recreation rooms, and outdoor facilities that host exercise classes for people of all fitness levels and interests. SilverSneakers covered courses often include:
- Cardio and strength training
- Water aerobics
- Chair and standing yoga classes
- Tai Chi
- Senior bootcamps
- Line dancing
- Outdoor walks
- Core conditioning
- Group stretching
- Balance training
Credentialed instructors trained in senior fitness and well-being lead every SilverSneakers-sponsored class, allowing vulnerable participants to adapt to new exercises under expert supervision. Likewise, these professionals can help seniors structure individual workout routines centered around their unique health needs and goals.
In addition to gym training, SilverSneakers gives members access to hundreds of instructor-led FLEX classes in community parks, churches, senior centers, and outdoor recreation areas, providing more opportunities to make friends and spend time in less formal environments. The SilverSneakers FLEX program includes many of the same classes hosted inside traditional fitness centers and more, such as nutritional education, yoga, and fall prevention.
SilverSneakers members can access standard gym and FLEX courses remotely by digitally attending live fitness classesor downloading prerecorded workouts from an on-demand video library. Online access to guided cardio, strength-building, yoga, tai chi, and many other courses allows seniors with mobility issues or those living in rural areas to maintain a healthy fitness routine and continue socializing with others, bolstering their overall well-being.
How Much Does the SilverSneakers Program Cost?
SilverSneakers costs nothing extra after you cover your Medicare Advantage or Medigap policy’s monthly premium. Essentially, anybody with eligible Medicare coverage has unlimited access to participating fitness centers and exercise classes simply by presenting their SilverSneakers ID at the door. However, supplementary gym services like personal training, massages, and smoothie stations will still require out-of-pocket contributions.
Remember that private insurance companies sell and structure Medicare Advantage and Medigap policies independently and can charge varying monthly premiums, deductibles, and copayments. Therefore, while a Medicare policy with SilverSneakers offers many advantages, prioritize an overarching plan that meets all your medical needs and budget before factoring in your potential fitness benefits.
How to Join the SilverSneakers Program
Follow these steps to enroll in a SilverSneakers-affiliated Medicare Advantage or Medigap plan:
- Confirm your eligibility: Regardless of age, anyone with a compliant Medicare plan should have SilverSneakers access. Verify your eligibility instantly through their online portal.
- Enroll in a participating health plan: If your current Medicare plan will not cover you, compare participating policies on the SilverSneakers website and purchase one that best suits your needs.
- Set up your Silver Sneakers account: Finally, you must submit your name, email address, birth date, and other personal details to receive your membership card.
Once complete, you can immediately enroll in any participating fitness center and begin taking in-person or online classes by scanning or entering your SilverSneakers membership ID number.
Alternatives to SilverSneakers
If your Medicare plan does not cover SilverSneakers, explore the following alternatives:
- Mutually Well: For a $25 monthly fee, Mutually Well gives specific Medigap policyholders access to thousands of fitness centers, workout classes, swimming pools, and basketball courts nationwide. Furthermore, this program discounts eligible chiropractic and acupuncture services and helps members structure personalized fitness and nutrition plans.
- Silver&Fit: This nationwide program generally does not require a monthly fee, offers similar benefits to SilverSneakers for seniors on eligible health plans, and can include two mail-delivered home fitness kits every year.
- Locally operated workout classes: Many cities’ Parks and Recreation and Education Departments provide information on free or discounted senior fitness classes that do not require insurance coverage.
All in All
Adults 65 and older need regular aerobic activity, muscle-strengthening, and balance-oriented exercise to keep their bodies durable and their minds sharp, helping them maintain independence and improve their overall quality of life. Notably, some Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans include free access to gyms and workout classes through SilverSneakers, a nationally prevalent fitness program centered around senior health and well-being. Call 866-584-7389 or explore the SilverSneakers website for more information on participating health plans, participating fitness centers, and available workout courses in your area.