Should health care reform fund biking? Bachmann says 'no'

Should health care reform fund biking? Bachmann says 'no'
Photo by Andrew Ciscel

We'd like to imagine that funding for different types of things such as roads, health care, schools, and housing would fall into clear-cut categories, but it's easy to realize this isn't always the case.

The latest health care bill in both chambers of Congress include funding for several things that don't necessarily fit into clear-cut funding streams.

In her latest critique of health care reform on her blog, Rep. Michele Bachmann pointed out some of the funding she calls "pork": bike paths, lighting, jungle gyms, and even farmers markets.

So this brings to question an important issue: Are new or improved bike paths part of our country's health care plan?

We say yes. We like to call it preventative health care.

More of Bachmann's comments:

While these projects may have merit, they certainly don't belong in a health care reform package. With priorities like this running amok on Capitol Hill, is there any doubt that health care costs will only continue to skyrocket under government-run health care?

Her comments came just as a new survey was released showing the health benefits of commuting to work. The research might be the first large U.S. study of health and commuting, according to the Associated Press, and the results could be used against Bachmann's argument.

The study of more than 2,0000 middle-aged city residents in Chicago, Minneapolis, Birmingham, Ala., and Oakland, Calif. showed that about 17 percent of workers walked or biked for a portion of their commute. Those who biked or walked part of their commute did better on fitness tests.

More from the AP:

Those active commuters did better on treadmill tests of fitness, even when researchers accounted for their leisure-time physical activity levels, suggesting commuter choices do make a difference.

For men in the study, but not women, the active commuters also had healthier numbers for body mass index, blood pressure, insulin and blood fats called triglycerides. Women walked or biked shorter distances and they may have done so less vigorously, the authors speculated.

Why weren't more people commuting by foot or bike? Americans said bad sidewalks, lack of bike paths and long commutes made them more inclined to stay in their car.

One problem with the study: Do people who are already in shape more likely to bike or walk to work? Maybe. But other research has shown that countries with more residents biking and walking have less obesity.

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