EAGAN, MN — People who use fitness center discount programs are more likely to live near a fitness center, according to a study by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. The survey found that 63.3 percent of those surveyed live within two miles of a participating fitness center. Forty-three percent of the fitness discount users say they joined a fitness center because of the discount.

The study also revealed that people who qualify for the discounts by using the center at least eight times a month are more likely to have lower health care costs compared to those who do not participate in the program. High users, or those who used a fitness center at least eight times a month for at least nine months in the study year, had claim costs 17.8 percent lower than non-participants, after adjusting for health status.

“We've seen the discount program as a huge incentive driving people to join and work out more, with the support of their jobs,” says Gussie Monks, the executive director of the Eagan, MN, Southwest Area YMCA.

The study was a retrospective, observational analysis of 74,000 Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota members who used the fitness center discounts program between July 2005 and June 2006. The program rewarded members up to $20 a month off their health club memberships if they met attendance goals. Blue Cross paid the discount.