Monday, September 13, 2004

how far do you want to fly?

the issue of youth obesity in the united states (and elsewhere) needs to be addressed by bold new thinking.

perhaps the challenge made to youth ought to be "how far do you want to fly?" --- in a human-powered plane.
such a plane could be powered by the combination of stored energy from stationary bicycles, step machines, rowing machines, etc. -- in combination with real-time energy of the pilot.

one goal for youth might be to fly such a human-powered plane across a river, such as the charles river, in cambridge, or the potomac river in washington dc. (the hudson river is a bit wide down by new york city, but is more do-able about 40 miles upstream, near bear mountain.)

here's a short quicktime file (one megabyte in file size) that brings together some ideas about human-powered flight and how it might be used as a physical exercise goal for youth.

some youth might choose a goal of flying one mile using only human power. while that might be a difficult goal for a single youth to perform on their own, it may be a feasible goal if several youth pooled their stored energy and chose one of their peers as a pilot.

admittedly there are some dangers involved in human-powered flight. these dangers can be minimized, though. (such as flying human-powered planes in the early morning or at dusk, when the wind tends to be the lighest.)

what's it like to fly a plane under your own power? i don't know. maybe we need to try imagining it more.

next steps? some engineering schools or inventors need to design lightweight energy storage devices (analogous to a spring) which can store energy from exercise equipment. exercise equipment manufacturers need to be brought on board. folks need to write articles on this topic and create multimedia of various kinds to help people imagine this happening.

i'll be linking to related materials here in this message on this blog.

if you think it's not possible to invent a whole new way to exercise, ask james naismith. he invented basketball.

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interesting fact - The economic cost of obesity in the United States was about $117 billion in 2000.

maria mejia tells me i should check out joy of sports

siobhan champ-blackwell has an informative blog, Bringing Health Information to the Community, which has a wealth of information including links to public health mailing lists and to a wide variety of community health grant funders. one community health grant funder that caught my eye is Sound Partners for Community Health, a program of the benton foundation, funded by the robert wood johnson foundation.

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