We all know we should exercise but does Medicare cover exercise programs, like gym memberships?
We have all heard it from our doctor. We have read about exercise and its benefits for overall health and weight loss or control in numerous articles and blogs on the internet and in magazines. Does Medicare Cover Exercise Programs? However, do you truly understand the importance of exercise and the benefits it has to your overall health? Exercise not only is good for your body and physical health but it is also good for your mind and your mood. Exercise can help reduce the risk of diseases – many of the same diseases that original Medicare offers preventive services and screenings.
What counts as exercise?
Exercise is defined as physical activity done at a level that increases your heart rate and/or challenges your muscles. Exercise does not have to be a complete workout that follows a specific routine. If you are just starting to exercise, start slow and work yourself up to an increased pace or level. You can make your everyday chores count as exercise by simply picking up your pace while cleaning the house or shopping. By completing your everyday chores quicker and at a faster pace you can increase your heart rate which constitutes a form of exercise. Another option is to enjoy a casual walk every day. Just get moving!
What Medicare Does and Does Not Cover
While original Medicare offers many preventive services and screenings an exercise program or gym membership is not one that is covered. However, if you have a Medicare Advantage plan (also known as “Part C”) then a fitness program or gym membership might be an additional benefit of the plan. Many plans offer a program called “Silver Sneakers” which is a fitness program wherein you can join a gym or fitness club at little to no costs to you. To find out whether your plan provides extra coverage or requires different co-payments for instruction in or assistance with physical exercise, review your summary of benefits or contact a Medicare Pathways Benefit Specialist. If your plan does not offer a fitness program such as “Silver Sneakers” a Medicare Pathways Benefit Specialist can assist you in finding the plan in your area that will provide a fitness program as an additional benefit.
Original Medicare and the preventive services and screenings that it offers can help you get healthy and stay healthy. However, you can help yourself in many ways to stay healthy by exercising. Regular exercise is necessary for physical fitness and good health. It reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes and other diseases. It can improve your appearance and delay the aging process. Regular exercise can also decrease your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Exercise increases bone strength, helping to alleviate the painful condition known as osteoporosis. Regular exercise also promotes a healthy immune system.
What are some other benefits of exercise?
- Exercise reduces depression and instantly lifts mood due to the production of endorphins, which are also referred to as the “feel-good hormones”.
- Exercise also helps you sleep better. A good night’s sleep helps you start the day feeling better and more energized.
- Another benefit to exercising is that it decreases stress levels because worries tend to shrink in size while you are concentrating on working out. Another alternative is to take a walk which will help clear your mind and relieve stress.
- Exercise improves focus and mental clarity. Research has shown that those who participate in regular exercise have less chance of suffering from Alzheimer’s and senility.
- Exercise produces better energy levels. The more you exercise, the more energy you will have.
- Improved strength and stamina are common with regular exercise. The chores that used to be burdensome will feel much easier and you will be able to do more for longer periods of time.
- Exercise increases muscle tone. The extra muscle mass will also help to increase your resting metabolism, which can help you shed those extra pounds.
- Exercise can help improve self-esteem and self-confidence. You will feel more in control of yourself and your life.
Medicare Advantage Plans May Cover Exercise Programs
If your New Year’s Resolution is to start exercising and you have a Medicare Advantage plan, check your summary of benefits to determine if the plan offers a fitness program as an additional benefit. This is a great incentive to get moving and start exercising. If you do not have a Medicare Advantage plan that offers a fitness program then talk to your doctor about an exercise program that will benefit your overall health. Exercising offers too many benefits to ignore when it comes to your health. Medicare Pathways wants you to live a long, healthy and happy life. Take advantage of the benefits of exercising and the benefits it has to your mind, body and mood. Medicare Pathways wishes you success with your resolution to start exercising. Good luck and get moving!
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