A bicycle ride a day keeps the doctor away

iStock_000017268227Medium Individual and public mobility is a cornerstone of society. While this may be obvious to you, how far-reaching the impact of movement really is remains a highly complex matter. Mobility plays a dominant role in the social sciences, humanities, and natural sciences. Now, the city of Boston and the Boston Medical Center have teamed up to fight one of America’s most pressing medical dilemmas: obesity. Personal mobility could prove to be life saving, too!

Go on, hop on a bicycle!

One in four Boston residents suffers from obesity. Among the conditions that can follow as a direct result of obesity are deadly heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, or breast cancer – all of which cost society billions to treat every single year. The irony is, while there are many expensive drugs with many inconvenient side effects, one type of treatment against obesity is cheap and highly effective. Movement! Because when you move you lose weight, which is exactly what the UK’s National Health Service preaches as the only way to stop obesity[1]. It’s very simple, but many find it annoying, stressful, a waste of time – they rather get in their car and drive, especially in car-worshipping America. In Boston, and elsewhere in America, obesity is usually a condition of people with low income that can’t afford expensive drugs. In line with the motto, “a bicycle ride a day keeps the doctor away”, doctors in Boston are now allowed to prescribe cycling as a treatment. The bicycles are provided by the city through its bike sharing program called Hubway. Normally, the price for an annual subscription is 85$ (62€) and thus rather costly.[2] However, the subscription is 5$ (3,60€) for low-income citizens as well as patients suffering from obesity. This is a brilliant idea!

Bicycles for everyone

How successful the program is remains to be seen. Habits are hard things to change and exchanging the comfortable-car-cruising-experience with two peddles and a frame is difficult. Here’s a tip for the city’s officials (with the best of intentions): promote the bike sharing program and set the annual price at 5 $ for everyone. This will make cycling much more attractive, it will lower CO2 emissions, and it will make a sickened society healthier! Preventative medicine is the best medicine – and by far the cheapest.

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