A Fitness Stimulus Could Save Lives and Jobs

If the government is going to spend more money, here's a healthy suggestion.

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Amid the chorus of calls for another stimulus package (it would be President Obama's second, the country's third), a new study is released that finds that active commutes--walking or biking some portion of the distance to work--are correlated with a higher level of fitness. But only 17 percent of Americans walk or bike any distance to work. Why?

From the AP story:

Crumbling sidewalks, lack of bike paths and sheer distances all keep American commuters in their cars, experts said.

While causality is an issue here, as healthier people will more likely choose to walk or bike to work, other studies show that countries with high rates of physically active commuting have lower rates of obesity, according to the AP.

[See more on how health is affected by unemployment]

So, couldn't stimulus dollars be aimed at constructing bike paths and repairing sidewalks, subsidies for bike purchases, and employer tax credits for installing locker rooms where workers can change out of their sweaty clothes? There would likely be just as much job creation in that kind of spending as in, say, electronic medical records.

Indeed, Denver is using stimulus funds to carve out more bike lanes in the city--and help reach a goal to boost bike commuting by 10 percent.

(It looks like others have proposed similar ideas for stimulus dollars.)


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