Physical Activity: Getting StartedPosted by Medicare Made Clear
Health problems due to aging are not inevitable. You may be able to help prevent or lessen some types of illness with physical activity. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if you’re age 65 or older, generally fit, and have no limiting health conditions, you should try to get at least two and a half hours (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, every week; and muscle-strengthening activities that work all the major muscle groups at least twice a week.1
Many people know they need to exercise but they don’t do it because they’re either too embarrassed to exercise in front of other people, they can’t afford a gym membership, or they like to just relax in front of the TV. If this sounds like you, you can start small, like slowly doing some muscle-strengthening activities while watching TV. You may also want to consider joining a fitness program that works with your Medicare health plan or Medicare supplement insurance provider. For example, there’s the Healthways SilverSneakers® program where one in five people age 65+ is eligible for a gym membership, generally with no additional cost to the member. If you don’t qualify for this program, contact your insurance provider to find out if you qualify for a different plan.
People who get regular physical activity tend to also enjoy better physical and mental health. According to SilverSneakers, 60 percent of their participants in 2012 reported their health as “excellent” or “very good” compared to only 32 percent of older adults nationally.2 And in 2013, 38 to 66 percent of members reported improvement in all health condition categories.3
Physical activity may help to prevent or improve any number of health conditions, including:
- Quitting smoking
- Weight management
- Heart disease
- Breast cancer
- Balance problems and falls
Physical activity may also help to prolong independence and improve general well-being and quality of life, as the increased activity and camaraderie usually leads to better physical and mental health.
Consult a health care professional before beginning any exercise program. Availability of the SilverSneakers program varies by plan/market. Refer to your Evidence of Coverage for more details. SilverSneakers® is a registered trademark of Healthways, Inc. © 2014 Healthways, Inc.
For more information, explore MedicareMadeClear.com or contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.
Growing Stronger: A step-by-step strength training program for older adults—CDC.gov
5 Reasons Aquatic Fitness is Like No Other: The benefits for people of all ages—NCPAD.org
Health Survey 2013: Learn about the health and well-being of today’s active older adults—Healthways SilverSneakers®
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.gov)—How much physical activity do older adults need?
2 Total-Wellbeing; SilverSneakers.com—HealthwaysFit.com
3 Healthways SilverSneakers Health Survey 2013—SilverSneakers.com