A discussion document recently published by McKinsey Global Institute identifies obesity as ‘a growing global calamity’ and ‘one of the top three social burdens generated by human beings’. As such, it needs multiple new initiatives to be implemented now to stem the rising tide of obesity.
It seems that obesity will be a hard nut to crack; food scarcity over thousands of years has programmed us to eat as much as we can whenever we can. As our lives have become increasingly sedentary and food has become increasingly easy to come by our only defence is our will power. Unfortunately, for many it seems, this isn’t enough. Things will have to change or we will suffer unaffordable health care costs, reducing life expectancy, increasing social benefit costs and reduced national productivity. Is there an app for that?
There just might be, not for will power maybe, but apps and smartphone technology can certainly help with obesity and personal health. Active transport (walking, cycling and taking public transport) and workplace wellness programs are just two of the initiatives identified by McKinsey as feasibly having a positive impact. The goal should be to encourage every employer and employee to see their daily commute as an opportunity to engage in physical activity.
There is a wealth of evidence to show exercise contributes considerably to a healthier, happier life with considerable productivity benefits to the employer.
According to research commissioned by the AA most commutes outside of London are between 15 and 30 min long; perfect for the occasional long walk or cycle to and from work.
At Faxi we have created a commuter focused social network to facilitate communities of employees travelling to and from the same destination to find journey sharing partners to reduce the cost of their daily commute or buddy up to walk or cycle together.
The next updates to our smartphone app will include automatically messaging users based on their commute to present them with all the information they might need to make an informed journey choice each day; we hope that when commuters see information like weather, distance, current traffic conditions, likely journey time for different transport modes, calories burnt and carbon saved they can see that simply jumping in the car each day might not necessarily be the best option.
Studies have repeatedly shown that those engaged in group exercise activities are more likely to stick at it. Using Faxi commuters can identify other commuters local to them to connect and jointly engage in active transport. And, if that isn’t enough, users’ smartphones can be used to track their activity to issue points, rewards or any other type of recognition organised by the employer.
Currently only a few employers are actively promoting the daily commute as an activity opportunity, we would like to see that increase dramatically. The benefits are obvious, dramatic and go way beyond the health of the individual commuter. Engaging in active transport helps individual weight loss and overall fitness, reduces users’ transport costs, increases alertness & productivity, reduces local road & parking congestion, reduces carbon & toxic emissions, increases road safety and reduces health care costs.
A study by the London School of Economics showed that Exercise makes people very happy — only sex makes people happier, but that sharing activity is outside our roadmap.