Seniors Staying Active: How Do You Like to Exercise?

According to USA Today, “seniors need to stay active to be healthy and avert loneliness.” It’s no secret that physical activity has a host of health benefits, but many people simply won’t exercise if it feels like a chore. So how do you keep a routine? Find something you enjoy. 

We polled 1,420 people about their fitness routines and what types of exercise they enjoy. Read on to learn our poll results, the benefits of different types of exercise, and how you can get started with your own exercise routine.

Poll Results: How Do You Exercise?

The clear favorite in our poll was cardiovascular activity (walking, running, or biking), which received 748 votes (28.6 percent). 

Exercising at the gym came in second with 657 votes (25.2 percent). 

Group fitness classes followed with 449 votes (17.2 percent). 

Next came exercising at a home gym or using home gym equipment with 319 votes (12.2 percent.)

“Other” exercises followed with 296 votes (11.3 percent.)

Exercising with a personal trainer was the least popular with 142 votes (5.4 percent). 

Exercise Poll Results - Medicare Plan Finder

Seniors Staying Active With Cardiovascular Exercise

Couple Walking With Bikes on the Beach for Cardio Exercise - Medicare Plan Finder

Cardiovascular exercise is the most popular activity with the people we polled. Walking, running, or cycling may be the easiest to start. All you need is the right equipment such as comfortable shoes and clothes or a bicycle. 

You can walk pretty much anywhere, and cold weather is oftentimes no excuse to get moving — many shopping malls allow people to walk around before the stores open. 

All you need is a good pair of shoes and comfortable clothes and you can start reaping the benefits of cardio exercise. Running may be a bit more high-impact on your joints, but it still has a ton of benefits* for heart and lung health. Bicycling requires more equipment than the other two, but it can be a great way to get outside and explore your neighborhood, provided it’s safe to do so.

*Always consult with your healthcare provider before starting any exercise program.

Benefits of Cardiovascular Exercise for Seniors

Cardio exercise offers a host of benefits that reach from your head to your toes. For example, it increases blood flow to your brain, which decreases your chance of stroke. Cardio can also improve your blood sugar control, which helps relieve stress on the pancreas and reduces your chance of developing type 2 diabetes. Additionally, cardio can aid in weight loss, help fight osteoporosis, reduce chances for a hip fracture, and help manage arthritis pain.

Seniors Staying Active at the Gym

Happy Couple Staying Active at the Gym - Medicare Plan Finder

Gyms are a great place for anyone looking to stay active. Many of them have the most up-to-date equipment and they can provide a great atmosphere for like-minded people to meet. Many gyms have staff on hand to answer questions and some even have saunas and hot tubs to help you relax after a workout!

You may even be able to find help paying for gym membership! Some Medicare plans include a fitness benefit that gives you free gym and/or group fitness access! Original Medicare does not offer coverage for fitness services, however, certain private plans called Medicare Advantage plans can. Some Medicare Advantage plans have low $0 premiums, so you’d get benefits such as gym memberships, meal delivery, hearing, dental, and vision for little or no extra cost to you*. 

*You still owe the Medicare Part B premium even if you have a Medicare Advantage Plan.

Benefits of Weight Training at a Gym

According to the New York TImes, “In multiple experiments, older people who start to lift weights typically gain muscle mass and strength, as well as better mobility, mental sharpness and metabolic health.” Gyms also usually have cardio equipment, too, so you can develop a well-rounded fitness program.

Seniors Staying Active With Home Gym Equipment

Exercising With Home Gym Equipment - Medicare Plan Finder

Working out at home can be a great way to stay in shape. You don’t need a lot of equipment to get started, either. You can have a safe and effective workout using dumbbells or resistance bands, and you can modify your routine to accommodate your needs. 

For example, some people may not be able to stand up and do shoulder presses. You can do exercises from a chair and still get an effective workout. The key is to know which exercises to perform, how many sets, and how many repetitions.

Home Gym Benefits

You don’t have many excuses to not exercise if your gym is at home. Even people homebound people can reap the benefits of exercise for older adults. You can find equipment at Amazon, Target, Walmart, or even used! Craigslist is a great source to find people who want to get rid of gym equipment they don’t use. 

Another benefit is that you get to control what equipment goes into your gym. Sometimes a fitness center will have what seems like an endless amount of machines, but you only use a handful of them. Don’t want a treadmill? Don’t buy one. You can have only the equipment you want. The best part? You likely won’t have to wait in line for any of it.

Seniors Staying Active at Group Fitness Classes

Group Fitness Class - Medicare Plan Finder

Commercial gyms, senior centers, and even some assisted living facilities host group fitness classes for seniors.

Benefits of Group Fitness

Group fitness classes have an added social component, which is extremely important for seniors and brain health. Also, many times group fitness classes can help you attend more regularly with the “positive peer pressure” that can result. 

If you start attending classes at certain times every week and you skip, your classmates will ask you where you were. That adds an accountability component that just exercising on your own doesn’t have.

Some Medicare fitness programs* can cover this benefit, too! Programs such as SilverSneakers®, Silver & Fit®, and RenewActive™ are included with certain plans. Some Medicare Advantage plans have low $0 premiums*, which would mean that your gym membership would have no additional cost.

*Medicare Advantage fitness benefits are not administered or necessarily endorsed by Medicare or any other government agency.

**You still owe the Medicare Part B premium even if you have a Medicare Advantage plan.

Seniors Staying Active With the Help of Personal Trainers

Woman Discussing Workout Routine With Personal Trainer - Medicare Plan Finder

Following a personal trainer’s plan is a great way to get in shape, especially if you’re new to working out. Your trainer will give you exercises to perform and a routine to follow. They’ll even watch you and make sure you’re maintaining the proper form so you don’t hurt yourself. 

However, personal trainers can be expensive. You may owe trainer fees on top of your gym dues. However, some gyms allow you to have a certain number of personal training sessions for free so you can see if the one-on-one fitness coaching is the path you want to take.

Other Ways for Seniors to Stay Active

Man Staying Active by Swimming - Medicare Plan Finder

The exercise methods in our poll aren’t the only ways for older adults to stay active. There are many other safe ways to exercise including, yoga, swimming, hiking, and playing sports. You have seemingly endless options as long as your healthcare provider approves your activity. The most important thing is that you enjoy the activity. Otherwise, you won’t stick with it and you won’t receive the many rewards that exercising can offer.

How to Get Fitness Coverage

Working out at the gym, your local senior center, or taking group fitness classes may be too expensive for some people. Fortunately, you may be able to find help if you have the right Medicare plan. 

Every location has different plans with different benefits. If you want to learn more about Medicare Advantage and what benefits (including fitness programs) are in your area, a licensed agent with Medicare Plan Finder can help. 

Our agents are highly trained and they can talk to you about your needs and they may be able to find a local plan that fits your budget and lifestyle. Call 1-844-431-1832 or contact us here to arrange a no-cost, no-obligation appointment today.

Have you voted on our poll yet? How do you like to exercise?

Ultimate Guide to NIA’s Go4Life® Program

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), “only 28-34 percent of adults ages 65-74 are physically active.” In an effort to get seniors moving, the National Institute of Aging (NIA) launched the Go4Life® campaign. 

What Is Go4Life®?

Go4Life Exercise and Physical Activity | Medicare Plan Finder

Go4Life® is exercise and physical activity campaign from the National Institute of Aging at NIH (National Institutes of Health) that’s designed to help people include exercise and physical activity in their daily lives. 

According to NIA, the campaign’s “essential elements are motivating older adults to become physically active for the first time, return to exercise after a break in their routines, or build more exercise and physical activity into weekly routines.”

The campaign offers exercise guides, motivational tips, and other free resources such as tracking tools to help you get started with and keep at physical activity.

Go4Life ® Types of Exercise

Go4Life®’s goal is to have people focus on more than one type of exercise. The campaign recommends doing four types of exercise for comprehensive physical fitness*:

  1. Endurance
  2. Strength
  3. Balance
  4. Flexibility

*Always check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.


Endurance activities are also called aerobic or cardiovascular exercise. 

Benefits of Endurance Training

According to the Mayo Clinic, cardiovascular exercise has many benefits including:

  • Strengthening your heart and muscles
  • Burning calories
  • Helping control your appetite
  • Boosting your mood through endorphins (feel-good chemicals)
  • Helping you sleep better at night
  • Reducing arthritis pain and joint stiffness
  • Helping prevent or manage high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes

Endurance Training Exercises

Go4Life® recommends the following endurance exercises:

  • Mall Walking: Malls provide a safe space for walking that’s free from bad weather and traffic.
  • Walking or Rolling Exercise: Brisk walking or rolling in a wheelchair around your neighborhood or other outdoor areas can increase your heart rate and breathing. 
  • Exercise Around the House: You don’t even need to leave your home to be active! For example, gardening, sweeping, raking, and shoveling snow are great ways to get your heart rate up. 
  • Outdoor Activities: These activities include cycling, horseback riding, sailing, jogging, skating, snorkeling, and swimming. 
  • Indoor Activities: These activities include indoor lap swimming, using cardio equipment at your local gym, dancing, water aerobics, martial arts, and/or bowling.
  • Sports: Competition and teamwork can be extremely motivating. Sports such as tennis, pickleball, volleyball, and hockey can be great ways to raise your heart rate and help keep you healthy.


NIH Exercise Recommendations for Strength Training | Medicare Plan Finder

When many people think of strength training, they think of lifting weights at the gym. While that is one way, you can also get valuable strength training in the comfort of your own home with dumbbells and/or resistance bands.

Benefits of Weight Lifting

According to, “long-term lifting is the best way to prevent age-related muscle loss,” and lifting is “even prescribed for the prevention of diseases like osteoporosis.” Other benefits include:

  • Burning fat
  • Increasing muscle mass
  • Supporting functional independence
  • Improving balance
  • Greater cardiovascular health
  • Improving mental health
  • Fighting type 2 diabetes

Weight Lifting Routines for Seniors and Medicare Eligibles

Go4Life® suggests gradually increasing the weight you use to build strength. Start with a weight you can lift eight times maximum. Use the same weight until you can easily do 10-15 repetitions. 

When you can do two sets of 10-15 repetitions, add more weight. You should only be able to lift the new weight eight times. Then repeat that cycle until you reach your goal. Go4Life® recommends the following strength exercises. You can find exercise instructions here

Upper Body Exercises

  • Seated rows with resistance bands 
  • Chair dips
  • Bicep curls with resistance bands
  • Wall pushups
  • Dumbbell bicep curls
  • Lateral raises with dumbbells
  • Front raises with dumbbells
  • Overhead presses with dumbbells
  • Dumbbell wrist curls
  • Grip exercise with a tennis ball
  • Tricep extensions with a dumbbell

Lower Body Exercises

  • Calf raises using a chair for balance
  • Standing from a chair
  • Leg extensions
  • Leg curls
  • Lateral leg raises
  • Back leg raises


As we age, our sense of balance can change. According to Harvard University, we lose our sense of balance if we aren’t physically active. 

Benefits of Balance Training

According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), about 25 percent of adults over 65 fall every year, and the right exercise program can help seniors prevent falls. It makes sense, too. NIA says that having good balance will help you carry out daily activities such as walking up and down stairs and navigating around objects on the floor.

Balance Exercises to Try at Home

Follow the instructions here to start Go4life®’s balance training routine.


Yoga | Medicare Plan Finder

Flexibility training involves stretching muscle groups to improve your range of motion.

Benefits of Flexibility Training

According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), improving your flexibility helps prevent injuries such as strains, sprains, and tears.

Flexibility Training Ideas

Go4Life recommends doing the following stretches three to five times whenever you exercise. You can do all of these exercises at home using a chair, supporting yourself with a wall, or lying on the floor.

  • Partner stretch
  • Standing calf stretch
  • Lying lower back stretch
  • Lying hip stretch
  • Standing thigh stretch
  • Lying thigh stretch
  • Seated back of leg stretch
  • Lying back of leg stretch
  • Seated ankle stretch
  • Various seated back stretches
  • Getting up from a lying position on the floor
  • Lying down from a seated position

Go4Life® also recommends yoga to help improve your flexibility.

Medicare Fitness Coverage

If you’re eligible for Medicare, you may be able to find coverage for gym memberships and fitness classes. Original Medicare, the public health insurance does not offer a fitness benefit. However, certain private insurance policies called Medicare Advantage plans can cover gym memberships and fitness classes. 

Programs such as Silver & Fit® and SilverSneakers® partner with insurance carriers and local gyms to offer beneficiaries discounted memberships. Some insurance carriers even offer their own fitness benefits. 

Some Medicare Advantage plans that offer fitness benefits even have $0 monthly premiums*! Plan benefits and availability vary by location, so check with your agent if you have questions about Medicare fitness coverage.

*Even if your Medicare Advantage plan has a $0 premium, you may still owe the Part B premium.

Medicare Fitness Programs

Find Coverage for Medicare Fitness Programs

Go4Life® provides exercise guidance so seniors can get active. If you want to learn about Medicare Advantage fitness coverage, a licensed agent with Medicare Plan Finder can help. Our agents are highly trained and they may be able to help you find a plan that fits your lifestyle and budget. To set up a no-cost, no-obligation appointment, call 844-431-1832 or contact us here today.

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