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Published on April 3rd, 2014 | by Cynthia Shahan


Take An Apple & A Bike-Share A Day; Boston Doctors Prescribing Bicycling

April 3rd, 2014 by  

Photo credit: marc_buehler / Foter / CC BY-NCBoston Medical Center and the City of Boston just split open a “managed care” melon.

Our country has epidemic health issues related to many things, not the least of which is lack of exercise. “Lifestyle diseases” are treatable simply by improving poor diet, offsetting lack of activity, and increasing exposure to fresh air and the wonders of nature.

Walking in the sand, bicycling, playing, hiking, and simply lying on the ground in a park, all of these things increase circulation and improve well-being. One of the most invigorating and stimulating activities available to us is also a means of transportation — bicycling. Physicians typically try to mention such things, if they have the time, but the message still doesn’t seem to get out there enough. The Boston Globe, however, tunes us in to a new initiative by the Boston Medical Center and the City of Boston. Docs are really promoting healthful change via outdoors prescriptions.

The City of Boston has announced a program to subsidize bike-sharing memberships for low-income residents, in partnership with Boston Medical Center.

The program, “Prescribe-a-Bike,” would allow doctors at Boston Medical Center to prescribe low-income patients with a yearlong membership to Hubway, a bike-share program, for only $5.

Participants would be allowed unlimited number of trips on the bicycles, provided they use them for 30 minutes or less at a time. They will also be given a free helmet, the mayor’s office said in a joint statement with Boston Medical Center.

The qualifying patients will have access to Hubway’s 1,100 bikes at 130 locations. The patients/participants will also receive a free helmet. The Boston Globe continues:

“Obesity is a significant and growing health concern for our city, particularly among low-income Boston residents,” said Kate Walsh, chief executive of Boston Medical Center, in the statement. “Regular exercise is key to combating this trend, and Prescribe-a-Bike is one important way our caregivers can help patients get the exercise they need to be healthy.”

Boston Magazine also has some news on the program:

“There is no other program like this in the country,” Mayor Marty Walsh told Boston Magazine. “Prescribe-a-Bike makes the link between health and transportation, and ensures that more residents can access the Hubway bike-share system.”

It used to be the norm for children to run free in the outdoors. Not so in modern times. In many cases, life is overly sedentary and lacking in spontaneity and fresh air. Boston Magazine adds another was in which Boston is working to counter this, and prescribing the outdoors for children: “Massachusetts General Hospital for Children is teaming up with Boston-based conservation and recreation program, the Appalachian Mountain Club to launch Outdoors Rx, which is designed to get kids moving on doctors’ orders.”

Streetblog USA adds more about this growing trend: “In the medical community this type of recommendation is known as an exercise prescription, and it is a growing practice. More doctors are prescribing exercise, the CDC says, as ‘lifestyle diseases’ like obesity, heart disease and diabetes have become some of the leading killers in the United States. In addition, policy measures like the Affordable Care Act are providing incentives for the healthcare industry shift focus from treatment of disease to the promotion of wellness.”

Read related stories on Important Media:

Playing Soccer Greatly Improves Heart Health In Men With Type 2 Diabetes Research Finds

Bikes and Health: What Can We Learn from Europe? (Infographic)

Bicycling Is A Very Effective Means Of Preventive Healthcare, Research Shows

Bike Commuting One Of The Most Effective Ways To Stay Healthy, Studies Show

Be The Change, Bike The Change — Boston Citizens Doing It

Photo Credit: marc_buehler / Foter / CC BY-NC 
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About the Author

Cynthia Shahan started writing by doing research as a social cultural and sometimes medical anthropology thinker. She studied and practiced both Waldorf education, and Montessori education. Eventually becoming an organic farmer, licensed AP, and mother of four unconditionally loving spirits, teachers, and environmentally conscious beings born with spiritual insights and ethics beyond this world. (She was able to advance more in this way led by her children.)

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