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Understanding SilverSneakers Eligibility and Enrollment Process

Just The Essentials…

  •  Many seniors fail to address all aspects of fitness while they age, leading to loss of balance and difficulty performing daily activities.

  • SilverSneakers is a program that offers no-cost gym access and classes designed to address these often overlooked areas of fitness.

  • SilverSneakers is exclusively available through Medicare Advantage plans, and is just one of many benefits these plans can offer.

Tired of gym memberships and app subscriptions?

With SilverSneakers eligibility, you might never have to deal with the hassle of signing up for a gym membership again. This Medicare Advantage benefit can grant you access to fitness centers across the country, alongside classes and courses designed for seniors looking to stay active during retirement. Read on to find out more about this program, and how you can find a SilverSneakers program near you.

The Importance of Exercise

Senior man gripping shoulder in pain.

We don’t need to tell you that working out is good for your health, but many seniors still fail to get sufficient exercise. 

You see, defining ‘fitness’ is actually a lot more difficult than you might expect. Generally speaking, you can divide fitness into three broad categories:

  • Metabolic Fitness, referring to the physiological state of your body at rest.

  • Physiological Fitness, which covers things like body composition, endurance, and flexibility.

  • Performance-related Fitness, referring to things like balance, coordination, and reaction time.

All three elements are key to a healthy body, and it’s possible to have a high level of fitness in one area while struggling in another. For instance, someone who is ‘skinny fat’ may have a healthy body composition, but poor control over their metabolic fitness.

Many popular exercises disproportionately focus on cardiorespiratory endurance, or our ability to perform physical tasks for an extended period. This is because our hearts and lungs tend to be the biggest indicators of general fitness, whereas things like agility and strength have more niche uses. Cardiorespiratory fitness also tends to affect body composition and metabolic fitness, making it an efficient thing to focus on. Performance-based fitness tends to be ignored outside of athletic pursuits, or is seen as secondary to the goal of improving general health. 

Unfortunately, for seniors, this approach can be dangerous. Take balance as an example: falls represent one of the biggest causes of injury for seniors, and injuries like broken hips can massively impact a person’s long-term health. This loss of balance can be counteracted with proper training: strengthening the muscles used for balance, while also performing fall prevention drills designed to reduce the risk of injury from a hall. 

However, the typical senior workout regimen of just walking fails to address this critical area. Other examples of this problem include maintaining grip and lifting strength, or improving hand-eye coordination. These are skills that we use daily, often without even realizing it. 

A senior fitness program, therefore, has to focus on all aspects of fitness, with special attention being paid to the performance-based aspects used in daily life. SilverSneakers, as a program designed specifically for seniors, does just that.

What is SilverSneakers?

Seniors lifting weights

SilverSneakers is a fitness program available through most Medicare Advantage plans. Designed to reduce the barriers between seniors and exercise. With SilverSneakers, eligible Medicare beneficiaries can get access to gyms and fitness courses at no additional cost. 

Unlike a traditional gym membership, SilverSneakers allows access to any participating fitness center, without any long-term commitment. This also grants access to all of the amenities that gym offers, including equipment and facilities.  This includes things like pools, saunas, running tracks, tennis courts, and more. These aren’t small fitness centers either, including national chains like Planet Fitness. 

One advantage SilverSneakers has over traditional gym memberships or fitness apps like Peloton, is the focus on senior fitness. SilverSneakers offers online, on-demand, and in-person classes designed to address the aspects of fitness a senior needs for their day-to-day life. For instance, their SilverSneakers Classic course covers topics like balance, general strength training, and fall prevention: all things designed to help maintain quality of life while aging. Other courses delve into more specialized areas, like yoga, dance, strength training, and water aerobics.

How do I know if I’m eligible for SilverSneakers?

Trainer helping senior woman with squats.

SilverSneakers is a benefit in the vast majority of Medicare Advantage plans (roughly 98% as of 2022), so current Medicare Advantage beneficiaries can check their eligibility here. However, SilverSneakers is only available to members of participating Medicare Advantage plans. If you have Original Medicare, Medigap, or are simply not eligible for Medicare, you won’t be able to make use of the gym memberships or live classes, though you can access their on-demand library. 

If you’re interested in SilverSneakers, we can help connect you with a Medicare Advantage plan that fits your needs. There’s so much more to Medicare than just a no-cost gym membership: our free comparison tool and team of licensed insurance agents can help you find a plan that works for your life and lifestyle. Give us a call at (800) 950-0608, or enter your zip code to begin your search.