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Bikes for Fitter Bodies and Cleaner Streets

Posted Jan 14 2009 4:45pm
It shouldn't be news that a fitter environment equals fitter bodies.

But it is news when two large institutions actually do something about it. Recently, health insurer giant, Humana, Inc. based in Louisville, Kentucky, donated 30 bicycles to the National Park Service in Washington DC. Employees will be able to use the bikes to travel between NPS buildings downtown.

Biking as a means of urban transportation is common in Asia and much of Europe, but it’s never caught on in the United States. May be that will change now that the government and Humana are providing a vision of a healthier cityscape.

“Biking instead of driving is good for your body and good for the planet. It’s also fun,” Michael B. McCallister, president and CEO of Louisville-based Humana, said in a press release.

Bikes are good for the environment for many reasons, as noted by Sara B. Hood in Cycling and the Environment.
  • A bike can travel 960 miles on the equivalent energy of a gallon of gas.
  • Between 70 and 100 bicycles can be built with the resources required to build one car.
  • A roadway can carry about three times as many cyclists as people in cars.
  • Biking instead of driving reduces the pollution that causes asthma and bronchitis.
The fitness benefits of biking are equally wonderful.
  • 30 minutes of biking at a moderate pace burns about 250 calories.
  • Biking burns fat and builds muscle, especially the quadriceps, hamstring and calf muscles.
  • Biking is great for the heart, yet does not jar the joints as jogging does.
  • Done regularly, it can reduce risk for diabetes and depression.
What does this mean for wellness professionals?
  • Depending on your location (urban, suburban) and size, consider how biking can best fit into employees' lives.
  • Install bike racks.
  • Give away high-quality bike helmets, decorated with a business logo, as an incentive.
  • Pass out literature or web links on the benefits of biking.
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