Squats for Tickets: Promotional Stunt or Call for Healthier Lifestyles?


Judy Lau
Staff Writer

In an effort to promote exercise and the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, one of Moscow’s subway stations set up a machine that allows people to do 30 squats in exchange for a free one-way ticket on the train. Such an incentive has sparked strong enthusiasm throughout Moscow and has drawn an interesting amount of attention to exercise throughout the world, including in the United States.

It’s not a secret that the United States is not the model for healthy living. According to a Labor Department spotlight in the American Time Use Survey, only about 16 percent of people in the U.S. participated in sports and exercise activities daily in recent years. Many of them opt to do other things such as watch television or eat. However, this has taken a negative toll on overall health and weight of the American people.

For years now, the United States’ obesity rate has been increasing. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, since 1980, our obesity rate has more than doubled and an average of roughly a third of the nation is considered obese. Despite the squats for tickets machine being only a promotional stunt that it will end soon, the idea for giving people an incentive to exercise is something that has been greatly needed in the United States for years now.

Harvey Grill, president of the Obesity Society commented on this unfortunate situation saying that, “The fact that we’re at 35% of adult Americans who are obese is extremely troubling because their obesity will result in health problems for the majority of them.”

With so many things to do and focus on, many adult Americans tend to turn to the quickest way to do things, and that can greatly affect their health. Rather than taking the extra time to walk up the stairs, people will opt to take the elevator. Working full time in an office drains all the energy and motivation to cook a healthy dinner and instead encourages the average Joe to turn to fast food.

The media advertises these fast food options to working Americans as being time efficient, thus shining a positive light on picking the easier method. Fast food advertisements target those who do not have time to stop and cook a meal or pack a sack lunch to buy from their food because it is tasty, delicious, and most importantly, fast. Driving a car looks better and saves much more time than walking or taking the train, but causes an opportunity cost of exercise.

With reports and statements made about the growing rate of obesity, there have been advertisements and campaigns within the media to encourage people to exercise and live actively. For example, Michelle Obama launched a campaign called “Let’s Move!” that is dedicated to solving the problem of obesity. Although it is primarily geared toward a younger audience, it nonetheless addresses the issue of obesity in order to promote a healthy lifestyle. Since its launch in 2010, the campaign has been able to promote healthier options on Disney-owned channels and provide beginner athletic programming for free or low cost. Such positive reinforcement from the media provides an incentive and encouragement for people to go out and be active. Providing resources, outlets, and positive reinforcement and incentives for not only children, but also adults throughout America can make a significant difference in curbing obesity down and steering America toward an active way of living.

Implementation of a program like this would provide Americans with an incentive and encouragement to change their passive ways of living. According to the Mayo Clinic, aside from the weight control that exercise provides, it can also boost energy and mood. Providing such an incentive is something that is greatly needed to help lower the obesity rate and encourage Americans, obese or not, to go the extra mile and opt for the healthier option. Although something like this seems small, it can be a small step towards gearing Americans toward a more active and hearty lifestyle.