Mexico City Offers Free Subway Rides In Exchange For Exercise

Ever gotten to a subway turnstile only to realize you forgot your wallet? Well, in Mexico City, there's a way to get on that train, even if you don't have money on you. And it doesn't involve any kind of illegal hopping. It's more of a squat.

In a bid to curb soaring obesity levels in Mexico, the government of Mexico City will begin offering free subway rides — a value of five peso each — to passengers who perform 10 squats in front of a ticket-dispensing motion sensor.

70% of adults and almost a third of children are overweight or obese in Mexico — a rate higher than even the United States. Health officials hope that these "health stations," which also tell passengers how many calories they've burned, will draw much-needed attention to the country's staggering obesity levels. The machines will also hand out pedometers to the first 80,000 users to help them track their energy output.

"Levels of excess weight and obesity concern us greatly. For me, it's the number one public health problem," the capital's health secretary Jose Armando Ahued Ortega said as he introduced the project, conceived by mayor Miguel Angel Mancera.

So far, 30 of the machines have been installed in 15 heavily transited stations throughout the city.

The Russian government introduced a similar subway program last year, when they offered free metro tickets in Moscow in exchange for 30 squats in under two minutes.

Mexico's squat requirement may not be quite as ambitious, but at least they're starting somewhere. That's a lot more than any city in the U.S. with a subway system can say.

What do you think of Mexico City's new initiative?

(h/t AFP)

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