Distance as a barrier to using a fitness-program benefit for managed medicare enrollees

Ethan M. Berke*, Ronald T. Ackermann, Elizabeth H. Lin, Paula H. Diehr, Matthew L. Maciejewski, Barbara Williams, Marcia B. Patrick, James P. LoGerfo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


This study evaluated the effect of distance on the likelihood of initiating and maintaining regular use of a fitness-program benefit in a population of managed Medicare seniors. We studied 8,162 participants and nonparticipants in a managed-care fitness-program benefit: a structured group exercise program or an unstructured health-club membership. Participants in both programs lived significantly closer to facilities than nonparticipants did (structured, p < .001; unstructured, p = .017). Participants living closer to unstructured-program sites attended more frequently than those farther away (p = .008). Distance was not correlated with frequency of use in the structured program (p = .49). Collectively, these analyses demonstrate that distance is related to uptake and, in some cases, continued use of a fitness-program benefit. Health systems providing fitness-program benefits as a way to increase physical activity levels of their plan members should consider location of program facilities in relation to members' home addresses to maximize use of the benefit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)313-323
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Aging and Physical Activity
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2006


  • Exercise
  • Older adults
  • Utilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Gerontology
  • Rehabilitation
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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