From Fat Boston to Fit Boston?

By Adam Reilly

April 24, 2012

mayor thomas menion

Menino announces the initiative on April 23. (Adam Reilly/WGBH)

BOSTON — Hey, Boston…. don’t take this the wrong way, but Mayor Tom Menino thinks you could stand to lose some weight.
On Monday in the Fenway, Menino kicked off an ambitious new program dubbed Boston Moves for Health. Its goal: getting Bostonians to collectively drop 1 million pounds and travel a whopping 10 million miles (whether it’s walking, running, biking or swimming) over the next year.
“It’s wonderful that Boston was named the third healthiest city in the country last year,” Menino said. “But obesity is a challenge that remains here and around this nation.
“Today really is a call to action,” Menino continued. “So I encourage you to get out and get moving with your friends, neighbors and colleagues. Together, we’ll build community around community health.”
Preemptive health care
Boston Moves for Health is very much a web-driven endeavor. Participants can use a free but fancy new website,, to set exercise goals, keep track of their progress and even find local exercise options.
Andrew Dreyfus, the president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, one of Boston Moves for Health’s lead corporate sponsors, said the program is smart public policy.
“Unless we focus on health,” Dreyfus said, “we’re not going to solve our larger issues of healthcare affordability. One physician I talk to regularly told me, ‘You know, our whole health care system is focused on the visit, the doctor’s visit. But it’s actually between the visits where health care happens.’”
The kickoff had plenty of bells and whistles — from free pedometers to healthy box lunches to an imaginary calisthenics tour of Boston that got an enthusiastic response from the assembled crowd. But in Boston, the mayor’s plan got a more ambivalent reception.
“Is he going to start with himself?” a woman named Judy asked of Menino’s fitness push as she walked by Government Center.
“I think it’s my personal business what I eat,” she continued. “Although I do watch what I eat. I’m very careful!”
But Martha Manning of Boston said that private fitness is a legitimate public concern.
“People who have MassHealth and they go to a nutritionist every week — you’re paying for that,” Manning said.
Let the yoga parties begin
As Boston Moves for Health gets up and running, the administration is promising a host of accompanying initiatives – including yoga on City Hall Plaza (“yoga parties,” Menino called them during an appearanceon WGBH-TV’s Greater Boston) and the formation of walking groups in neighborhoods around the city.
To be clear, participation is voluntary. But if you’re thinking about taking a pass, Menino hopes that you’ll think again.  

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