My grandma went through a big life change last year. To cope, she decided to start taking better care of herself and now takes a daily walk around her neighborhood. She’s in really good shape, has lost weight and is learning a lot about healthy eating. She’s proof you can be physically fit at any age.

One way to focus on being active and healthy is to check if your Medicare plan (including dual eligible Medicare and Medicaid plans) has a fitness benefit.

A fitness benefit means your health plan helps pay for some or all of your gym membership or provides you with resources to be physically fit. It’s common for a health plan to partner with another company, like SilverSneakers.

How a fitness benefit works

A Medicare plan fitness benefit is a great way to improve health and well-being. It’s easy and affordable because it’s typically included in the Medicare plan at no extra cost.

Generally, a fitness benefit may offer these options:

  • Membership at a participating fitness center or gym at no or reduced cost. With no minimum visit requirements, you can use the facilities as often as you like. And specially trained instructors may teach classes adapted to the needs of older people.
  • Kits to help you work out at home. The kits may include DVDs, guides and some equipment to help you exercise on your own. Usually you can choose one or two kits per year, depending on your Medicare plan benefit. You’ll likely have a variety of fitness topics to choose from like strength training, walking, yoga, dance and more.

Your program may have added perks like a newsletter with healthy tips or a rewards program for tracking your activity. Some plans for people with low income, like a Minnesota Senior Health Options (MSHO) plan, also offer free transportation to the fitness centers.

Getting started on a program

Generally, you can begin using the fitness benefit by showing your member ID card at the participating gym/fitness center. Here are some more ways to learn about your benefits and find the right center near you.

1. Check your health plan materials, such as the Evidence of Coverage or the Member Handbook.

2. Call your health plan’s Member Services at the phone number on the back of your member ID card. They’ll tell you if your plan has a fitness benefit and can help you find a participating fitness center nearby.

3. Get help from the fitness program once you know which program your plan covers. You can go to the fitness program’s website or contact their customer service. Learn about your gym options and get helpful information to support the new fit you.

HealthPartners members: Learn more about your plan’s fitness benefit.

I hope you’ll get excited to make fitness a part of your life. Maybe your Medicare fitness benefit will lead to a neighborhood walk for you too, or a new regular workout routine at your local gym. Enjoy your exercise!