Desperate to boost exercise rates, the Food and Drug Administration capitalized on the soaring popularity of electric scooters as an alternative means of transportation and formally classified riding the scooters as exercise that will count toward the recommended - but, for many Americans, hopelessly unattainable - 20 minutes of physical activity per day.
"Our aim is to encourage people and get them moving, and these vehicles do that," said FDA spokesperson Bryce Hanson. "People are tired of feeling that they're not really exercising if they're not running a marathon or at least breaking a sweat. We're now saying to them, look, you're doing great. And this counts."
While some ardent exercise advocates pushed back, arguing that merely standing on a motorized vehicle that transports you somewhere hardly results in the sorts of elevated heart rates necessary to yield significant cardiovascular benefits, Hanson countered by detailing the many positives about riding electric scooters.
"For one, it's very low impact, reducing risk of bone.fracture," he said. "And there's also a substantial balancing component, the potential benefits of which can't be overstated."
In a rare moment of candor, however, when pressed as to whether he'd be willing to state under oath that riding an electric scooter qualifies as actual exercise, Hanson admitted that he would not - but pleaded that the FDA was doing the best it could with what it had to work with.
"It may not really be exercise," he granted, "but at this point we'll settle for anything that gets people away from the television screen and out of the house. We're trying to keep our expectations realistic."
And by all indications, the FDA's inclusive approach to what qualifies as "exercise" is paying off in spades.
"I'm now exercising an average of thirty minutes a day, on my way to work downtown and back," said Trevor Martin of New York City. "I've always heard that the best kind of exercise is one you'll actually do, and I finally found one! It feels great."