For the second consecutive year, Minneapolis-St. Paul is the healthiest, fittest metropolitan area in the United States, according to the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) annual American Fitness Index™ (AFI).
Made possible by a grant from the WellPoint Foundation, the 2012 AFI data report, “Health and Community Fitness Status of the 50 Largest Metropolitan Areas,” evaluated the most populous city areas to identify the healthiest and fittest places in the United States. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington achieved a high score of 76.4 (out of 100 possible points) to capture the top ranking.
The AFI data report reflects a composite of preventive health behaviors, levels of chronic disease conditions, health care access and community resources and policies that support physical activity. New to the 2012 AFI data report is a benchmark for each data indicator to help identify areas that need improvement.
“Although many people will gravitate to which cities are fit or less fit, it’s important to remember that there is room for improvement in every community,” added Thompson. “It’s also worth noting that even the lowest-ranked areas have healthy residents and community resources that support health and fitness.”
To assist with measurement and to provide a baseline measure of health and fitness status, ACSM worked with the Indiana University School of Family Medicine and a panel of 26 health and physical activity experts on the methodology of the AFI data report. Researchers analyzed the data gleaned from U.S. Census data, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), The Trust for the Public Land City Park Facts and other existing research data in order to give a scientific, accurate snapshot of the health and fitness status at a metropolitan level.
Today’s post looks at the metropolitan statistical area of Washington D.C.-Arlington-Alexandria, which spans from southern Maryland to northern Virginia. From 2008-2010, DC Metro ranked at the top of the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) American Fitness Index (AFI), which evaluates the 50 most populous city areas and identifies the healthiest and fittest places in the United States.
This year, Minneapolis-St. Paul edged DC Metro out of the number one spot. According to the 2011 AFI data report, D.C. took the number two spot with a score of 76.8 out of a possible 100 points.
Washington D.C. dropped to 2nd this year for several reasons. It showed an increase in smokers from 12.3% in 2010, to 13.6% in 2011. The area also showed a slight increase in the number of residents reporting that they have diabetes. In 2010, the report showed 6.7% with diabetes, and in 2011 a small increase to 7.1%. However, even with these changes Washington D.C. still ranks first in personal health indicators with a score of 83.1. This is highly influenced by the 4 out of 5 people who report exercising regularly and a high percentage of citizens reporting to be in excellent or very good health (64.1%).
Washington D.C. and its surrounding areas rank 3rd for community and environmental indicators related to health. The area increased its number of farmer’s markets per million residents to 18.6 indicating an increase in healthier eating, and has an above average number of primary health care providers per 100,000 residents at 105.2. While the area reduced park related expenditures this year ($259 per capita), its still the highest amount among the 50 areas measured. And the area’s percentage of parkland is still well above average at 19.4%.
Recreational facilities are plentiful in the nation’s capitol, but getting a tee time might prove difficult — the number of golf courses per 100,000 residents is 0.5.
For a complete list of metro area’s strengths and challenges, plus a breakdown of the components that helped make up its score, please visit the AFI website and download the Washington D.C. report at www.americanfitnessindex.org/report.htm.
To help communities improve the health of their residents, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) today introduced the American Fitness Index (AFI) Technical Assistance Project. With support from the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation, the AFI Technical Assistance Program will be piloted in Indianapolis and Oklahoma City. The YMCA of Greater Indianapolis will be the convening partner in the Indianapolis effort.
The new program builds upon the annual ACSM American Fitness Index™ data report, which provides a health status snapshot of the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the United States. The Indianapolis metro area has consistently scored poorly in the AFI data report, ranking 45th with a score of 34.4 (out of 100 possible points) in the 2011 edition. The metro area ranked 44th with a score of 35.9 in 2010.
Contributing to Indianapolis’ low score is a high percentage of smokers and an above-average population with chronic health problems such as obesity, asthma and coronary heart disease. As a community, the metro area’s investment in park-related expenditures and facilities is on the low end. Additionally, less than two percent of residents bike, walk or use public transportation to get to their jobs.
The AFI Technical Assistance Program will identify actionable areas with the best evidence for improving health and fitness at the community level and aims to make a community-wide impact quickly. The program will balance helping underserved populations with doing the most good for the most residents. In a October 17 news release, AFI Chair Dr. Walt Thompson noted the significance of prohibitive smoking policies that can make an immediate impact.
The program begins with a series of interviews with community advocates and experts – identified by the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis and the Alliance for Health Promotion – with keen insight into the health and fitness of the Indianapolis metropolitan area. The Bowen Research Center, the Research Division of the Indiana University School of Medicine, will conduct the interviews to get feedback on Indianapolis’ unique strengths, assets and areas of needed improvement related to healthy living and physical activity.
Following the interview phase, ACSM will facilitate a planning session with a community team to address the key issues and create a strategic plan. A period of public comment will follow, allowing the community to weigh in on the plan. The community team will be responsible for implementing and tracking successes back to ACSM. ACSM experts will participate in the implementation phase and will share lessons learned and best practice solutions through the AFI program.
In addition to Indianapolis, the pilot program will be conducted with community leaders in Oklahoma City in 2011. The goal is to add four additional cities in 2012 and 2013 respectively, bringing the total to ten cities that will receive tailored technical assistance.
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) received a $171,880 grant from the WellPoint Foundation to present the 2011 ACSM American Fitness Index (AFI) data report and establish pilot programs to improve health. Now, by translating key data from the AFI report, ACSM will provide technical assistance to low-ranking metro areas to help them improve health and fitness in their communities.
For the first time, Minneapolis-St. Paul is the healthiest, fittest metropolitan area in the United States, according to the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) annual American Fitness Index™ (AFI).
The 2011 AFI data report, “Health and Community Fitness Status of the 50 Largest Metropolitan Areas,” evaluated the most populous city areas to identify the healthiest and fittest places in the United States. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington edged out previous leader Washington, D.C. for the top spot this year with a score of 77.2 (out of 100 possible points).
In this AFI From the Field video, Jennifer Neugebauer talks about opportunities for physical activity in Sacramento, which ranked 7th in the 2010 AFI data report. She also talks about air quality concerns in the area and the effect that has on encouraging physical activity.
Neugebauer points out that the rankings might be of interest to active people considering move to another city to ensure there are resources that fit their interests. Neugebauer is a PhD candidate in biomedical engineering at the University of California Davis.
Dominique Ennis, of UNC Asheville Campus Recreation, talks about the state of health and fitness in of Asheville, N.C. Ennis notes that there are many opportunities for physical activity in the Asheville area that are not measured within the AFI data report. The opportunities include outdoor adventure pursuits, such as hiking, rock climbing and mountain biking.
Ennis is involved with Project ASSIST Tobacco Prevention Coalition and Healthy Buncombe, an organization dedicated to helping people get active and eat well.
Kelsey Logan, MD shares her opinions on the state of health and fitness in Columbus, Ohio. Dr. Logan talks about some studies taking place at The Ohio State University aimed at examining access to healthy foods and safe places for physical activity in Columbus.