10 Squats Earn You a Subway Ride…

Since January of this year, Mexico City’s Secretary of Health has been experimenting with health stations in subway and bus stops that reward passengers for performing a mini-workout. The goal of the initiative is to promote a healthier lifestyle and curb obesity in a country where 70 percent of adults are overweight and 30 percent obese. Mexico also leads the world in childhood obesity, where 35 percent of adolescents are overweight or obese.
Using a motion sensor, the stations ask passengers to complete squats. When someone performs 10 consecutive squats, the machine issues a ticket, which can be exchanged for a free subway or Metrobus ticket within Mexico City, an anti-stress ball, pedometer, or pack of condoms. The last three reward options are handed out by government employees running the stations.
Since its launch, the program has encountered some criticism, namely that the free pedometers have English-only instructions and ongoing delays in issuing free transit tickets. In July, Mexico City Secretary of Health’s Armando Ahued announced that the program will issue a minimum of 50,000 free transit tickets, half of which is funded by private institutions. It is unclear whether the initiative will continue after that quota is met. The 30 stations were rotated throughout transit stops across the city.
The Mexican government has been working for years on possible solutions, using higher taxes and restricting advertising for sugary soft drinks. “We are calling for people to start moving, ” Ahued says. “The best vaccine for obesity is called exercise and a lifestyle change.”
A similar health station was first deployed during the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia. In that program, 30 squats were required for a free transit ticket.
The health stations are part of a larger health campaign that is installing 600 free outdoor gyms throughout Mexico City and advocates more movement, limiting fat, sugar and salt to roll back the rate of obesity and diabetes that are crippling citizens’ health and healthcare system. Should obesity rates continue at their current levels, expenses are estimated to reach $12.5 billion by 2017.
It will be interesting to see whether these efforts are successful in getting people to be more active and making healthier dietary choices.
Video below:
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