By Tracey Connell

Exercise has many benefits, even for those with arthritis, injury recovery, or chronic pain. Physical activity helps increase flexibility, tone muscles, improve mobility and balance, relieve insomnia, and build stronger bones. Staying physically active can also lift your mood and make daily activities easier. With SilverSneakers, eligible individuals can enjoy a plethora of online and in-person fitness classes along with free gym membership, all covered by select Medicare plans. In a 2019 study, participants who used this benefit had better physical and mental scores, demonstrating an improved quality of life.  

SilverSneakers provides free access to participating fitness and exercise facilities, including municipal recreation centers and other community-based gyms. To discover a location near you, use the free search tool provided on the SilverSneakers website. This website has information about how to find out more about the program. You can check your eligibility, become a member, and find a nearby fitness location.  Call the location listed to see if you need an appointment to set up a no-cost membership through SilverSneakers. Once at the location, tell the front desk staff you want to enroll through SilverSneakers and ask for a tour. Your membership ID is requested at admission, which you will download, print, or show on your phone. 

SilverSneakers members also have various online tools, including access to weekly virtual classes, a digital curriculum of on-demand courses, and virtual programs that target balance, fall prevention, strength, flexibility, cardiovascular health, and more.  Go to the website to check eligibility, find instructors for all skill levels, and apply filters to find the classes for your particular situation. With the online courses, you do not have to turn on your camera, but can join an optional group chat.

Traditional Medicare (Parts A and B) does not offer SilverSneakers; however, the following do: 

  • Medicare Advantage Plans (check yours for eligibility)
  • Medicare supplemental carriers (Medigap plans) 
  • Group retiree plans 

SilverSneakers’ free gym membership plan is open to seniors 65 and older. Most basic gym memberships through SilverSneakers include access to cardio machines, free weights, a track, and a pool or other fitness equipment. You will pay extra to gyms for services not covered by the SilverSneakers program. Call the participating facility beforehand to ask about added features. 

Although SilverSneakers’ benefits are worthwhile, you will need to weigh many options to determine what fits your budget and healthcare needs. You can call your Medicare provider to check if SilverSneakers benefits are in your plan. The Council on Aging of Central Oregon offers its Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance (SHIBA) program of free and unbiased Medicare counseling to help you choose the right program for your needs.

Participating SilverSneakers Locations in Central Oregon

Planet Fitness

725 NE Greenwood Ave, Bend, OR 97701
(541) 306-6084

Fitness 1440

3853 SW 21ST ST STE 107, Redmond, OR 97756
(541) 504-6050

Redmond Senior Center

325 NW Dogwood Ave Redmond, OR 97756-1671
(541) 548-7275

Cascade Swim Center

465 SW Rimrock Drive Redmond, OR 97756
(541) 526-1847

Redmond Athletic Club

1717 NE 2nd Street Redmond, OR 97756
(541) 923-6662