When you ask a question like ‘does Medicare cover fitness clubs,’ the answer isn’t as simple as giving you a yes or no answer. While it’s true that Medicare Part A and Part B do not provide coverage for gyms or fitness clubs, you can usually gain access to one if you have a Medicare Advantage plan. Let’s take a closer look at the differences between Medicare and Medicare Advantage.

What Fitness Club Benefits Are Included in Medicare Part A and Part B?

Medicare Part A and Part B aren’t designed to offer any coverage at a gym or fitness club. However, there are some fitness-related perks you can take advantage of if you have certain medical conditions. Here are some of the benefits you can receive, if you qualify:

  • Group sessions to prevent diabetes, along with programs to help you change your diet, control your weight, exercise more and manage your condition.
  • Medically necessary physical therapy to treat an illness or injury.
  • Free preventative nutrition therapy for those with kidney disease or diabetes.
  • Weight-loss counseling for anyone who has a BMI of 30+. This will include behavioral therapy, a dietary assessment and obesity screening.

What Fitness Club Benefits Are Available Through Medicare Advantage?

Getting a Medicare Advantage plan that’s backed by private insurance, as opposed to taking regular Medicare, can give you access to specific fitness clubs. In fact, 99 percent of Medicare Advantage users in an individual plan had gym or fitness club access in 2023. Additionally, 95 percent of users in a Special Medicare Advantage plan had these benefits as well.

One of the many gyms you can get a free membership to is the SilverSneakers program, which is intended for people who are 65 and up. To give you an idea of what to expect, SilverSneakers has more than 15,000 nationwide locations that offer:

  • Dance classes.
  • Exercise classes.
  • Stretch classes.
  • Yoga classes.
  • Meditation classes.
  • On-demand video library of sessions.
  • Free SilverSneakers GO app for Android and Apple phones.

Aside from having easy access to the eligible gym or fitness club, Medicare Advantage also gives you an incentive to remain physically active. Some of the many perks you can get via this portion of your plan include:

  • Gift cards for taking healthy actions such as getting a flu shot or exercising.
  • Discounted exercise equipment for meeting your activity goals.
  • Discounted smartwatch for meeting your activity goals.
  • Free fitness tracker. Receive a new one every two years.

How Do I Make Sure My Medicare Advantage Plan Offers Gym Benefits?

Although the majority of Medicare Advantage plans do include fitness club benefits, it’s still a good idea to verify eligibility. To begin shopping for a Medicare Advantage plan, go to Medicare.gov/plan-compare. From here, either log in or select ‘continue without logging in.’ Next, you’ll have to answer a few basic questions. After you’ve entered your prescriptions and preferred pharmacy, you’ll be able to choose the plan benefits you need. Be sure to select ‘fitness benefits,’ then browse for the best plan in your local area.

What About Using Medigap for Gym Coverage?

Medigap is a secondary form of insurance that is intended to cover the portion of your medical expenses that you’re responsible for paying. As such, it can be a big boon to those who regularly incur large medical expenses. In its standard format, Medigap does not usually provide any coverage for fitness clubs. However, some types of Medigap will offer vision, dental, hearing and gym memberships. This may be included for free, or it could require a low-cost add-on.

When you’re shopping for a Medigap plan that includes gym coverage, go to Medicare.gov. Follow the steps listed above for Medicare Advantage, and you should find some local plans to assist you.

What Other Ways Can I Get a Free or Discounted Gym Membership?

Because Medicare is generally available only to people who are 65 and up, there are other discounted or free fitness club perks you can look into. For example:

  • Local fitness centers, including some YMCAs, offer a senior discount.
  • Retiree or employee health insurance plans often feature a wellness benefit that includes a gym membership.
  • Visit your local senior center for a low-cost or free fitness program. Visit the Eldercare Locator to discover what plans are offered in your area!

Regardless of what plan you decide to use, it’s critical that you remain in motion. Anyone over 50 who isn’t exercising regularly may deal with a reduction in their balance and coordination, strength, muscle mass, physical endurance and more. Keep yourself in good shape by signing up for a gym!