Will Work (Out) for Subway Fare…

Let’s face it, the comforts of our automated, tech-savvy lives reduce our need to be physical. Sure, there have been numerous articles written about the benefits of physical fitness, but the fact of the matter is that we can still have a productive, successful day without exerting a ton of physical energy.

Well, that is changing a bit for Moscovites willing to save some cash by getting physical. I recently came across this amazing article about a Russian campaign that is promoting physical fitness by allowing patrons to pay their subway fare with squats. Yes, squats. 30 squats will get you a shiny new single-ride ticket on the city of Moscow’s subway system.

I love this for so many reasons:

  1. It gives citizens an economic incentive to enhance their physical fitness. Those of us caught in the daily 9-5 grind and  urban sprawl know that exercise often lies outside of our daily duties. I’m not saying that economic incentives do not exist for people to get fit, but we often have to “find the time” to hit the gym, the park, or the Tae Bo DVDs (am I revealing my age with that reference?) This system actually builds physical fitness into people’s everyday routines AND provides an instant monetary incentive.

  2. Peer pressure. Those of you who have ever made a late-night vow to hit a 6 AM spinning class probably know that we are less likely to hit the snooze button when we know someone will be there waiting for us. And who wants to be the only sweaty person to arrive to work sporting their bike helmet and spandex? What better way to build in a buddy system than to facilitate fitness in such a high-traffic public place? I mean, come on guys, everyone is doing it!
  3. Plus, exercising in groups can also make us nicer. According to this article from Medical News Today, “a greater production of endorphins during these activities, suggest the authors, could be a way to help humans to bond in groups and improve social interactions.” And where else could we benefit from nicer people than at the subway station?
  4. It can make us smarter. Ok, this one is kind of about exercise in general. With the onslaught of different programs targeted at preserving the brain and the memory using cognitive games, it’s easy to forget the role that exercise plays in brain health. According to this CNN health article, a study published in 2012 in the journal Neurology found that “working out is more effective at protecting the brain than cognitive challenges such as games and puzzles.”

During my former  years as a collegiate athlete, exercise was an integral part of my daily duties. It wasn’t until I graduated into the world of the working professional that I realized what a luxury it was to have physical fitness be mandatory for my success. So, I pose the question to you: How else can we build economic incentives for physical fitness into our everyday routines?

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