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Spotlight on Phoenix: Health and Fitness in the Valley of the Sun

Posted February 10th, 2012

Today’s post takes a look at the metropolitan statistical area of Phoenix, Arizona; also known as the “Valley of the Sun”. Phoenix is the largest state capital in the country and the metropolitan area is the 14th largest by population. The city is divided into 15 urban villages each with their own unique character.

Phoenix ranked 32nd in the most recent ACSM American Fitness Index™ (AFI) data report, which evaluates the 50 most populous city areas and identifies the healthiest and fittest places in the United States. The metro area earned a score of 45.3 (out of 100 possible points) in 2011, moving slightly down from a score of 47.4 in 2010, however the rank remains the same.

The study reports 82.6% of the population participated in physical activity or exercise in the last 30 days; 8% above the U.S. average. Accordingly, the city has a lower percent with angina or coronary heart disease and lower death rates for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Among the 50 largest metro areas, Phoenix has the highest percentage of residents with asthma (11.9%). Overall, the Valley of the Sun ranked 19th in personal health indicators.

However, the metro area ranked 44th in community/environmental indicators. The city boasts a decent amount of parkland as percent of city area, but falls behind in number of recreational facilities such as ball diamonds, playgrounds, golf courses, tennis courts, etc. In Arizona, the state only requires physical education classes at one level (among elementary, middle and high school). There are only 71.0 primary health care providers per 100,000 residents, way below the MSA average of 93.2.

The city struggles with poverty and unemployment, but has made strides since 2010. Due in part to high heat conditions, the city reports a lower percent using public transportation and biking to work.

For a complete list of Phoenix’s strengths and challenges, plus a breakdown of the components that helped make up its score, please visit the AFI website and download the Phoenix report at www.americanfitnessindex.org/report.htm.

Phoenix skyline

Spotlight on Kansas City: Health and Fitness in the City of Fountains

Posted February 1st, 2012

Today’s post takes a look at the metropolitan statistical area of Kansas City, Mo. Notably, the city has more parks, golf courses, famer’s markets and ball diamonds per capita than any other state. To be exact, there are 214 urban parks, 152 ball diamonds, 10 community centers, 105 tennis courts, five golf courses, and 30 pools occupying the city’s 318 square miles.

Kansas City ranked 22nd in the most recent ACSM American Fitness Index™ (AFI) data report, which evaluates the 50 most populous city areas and identifies the healthiest and fittest places in the United States. The metro area earned a score of 51.5 (out of 100 possible points) in 2011, moving up from a rank of 29th and a score of 47.9 in 2010.

The area ranked 25th on community/environmental indicators related to the built environment, recreational facilities, physical education requirements and primary health care providers. The study reports 59.3% of the population is in excellent or good health. However, Kansas City continues to struggle with the number of smokers as nearly 20% are currently smoking, down just 1% from 2010 and still above the country’s average.

Despite the larger number of farmer’s markets per capita and City Market, one of the largest and most stable public farmers’ markets in the Midwest, only 18.7% of residents report eating 5+ servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

The percentage of residents with chronic health concerns is relatively low and the community still places a strong commitment to physical education classes for the city’s youth. With an abundance of fitness facilities in the Kansas City area, it is only a matter of time before the city can improve it’s ranking.

For a complete list of the Kansas City’s strengths and challenges, plus a breakdown of the components that helped make up its score, please visit the AFI website and download the Kansas City report at www.americanfitnessindex.org/report.htm.

Kansas City Skyline

Spotlight on Richmond, Va: Health and Fitness in One of America’s Oldest Cities

Posted December 29th, 2011

Today’s post takes a look at Richmond, the third largest metropolitan statistical area (MSA) in Virginia. The city of Richmond and its surrounding areas include a population of 1.2 million residents, six Fortune 500 companies, and countless historical monuments and museums.

Richmond took the number 12 spot in the 2011 AFI data report with a total of 64.2 points (out of a possible 100). This ranking was down one spot from 2010. With an above average number of residents getting exercise in the last 30 days, a 5% increase in the number of residents eating five or more servings of vegetables and fruits each day, and a strong percentage (66%) reporting to be in excellent or very good health, it would appear that Richmond is making the right moves towards a healthier community.

On the other hand, Richmond experienced a nearly 4% increase in the number of reported smokers, an increase in residents categorized as obese, and an increase in the deaths per 100,000 from cardiovascular disease. Even with all that, the increase in healthy habits mentioned above, and the 6% increase in residents who are getting moderate physical activity, Richmond moved up a spot to 8th in personal health indicators related to chronic health problems and health care.

While Richmond scores in the top 10 on personal health indicators, it is in the top 20 according to the community and environment indicators. Almost every indicator used in this category stayed the same from the 2010 to 2011 AFI data report with the exception of the number of farmer’s markets. This number nearly doubled from 4.9 per 100,000 residents in 2010 to 9.7 in this year’s report, indicating an increased propensity towards healthier eating. Richmond has the most tennis courts per 10,000 residents (6.9) among the 50 city areas measured in the AFI data report.

For a complete list of Richmond’s strengths and challenges, plus a breakdown of the components that helped make up its score, please visit the AFI website and download the Richmond report at www.americanfitnessindex.org/report.htm.

Richmond Skyline

Spotlight on Los Angeles: Health and Fitness in The City of Angels

Posted December 9th, 2011

Today’s post looks at Los Angeles and its surrounding areas including Long Beach and Santa Ana. It is a city that promises new life, hope, fame and fortune to many looking to move west.

Los Angeles ranked 41st in the most recent ACSM American Fitness Index™ (AFI) data report, which evaluates the 50 most populous city areas and identifies the healthiest and fittest places in the United States. L.A. earned a score of 39.1 (out of 100 possible points) in 2011, moving down from a rank of 38th and a score of 40.5 in 2010.

Los Angeles ranked 30th with a score of 44.8 on personal health indicators related to health behaviors, chronic health problems and health care. The City of Angels has a fairly low percentage of smokers (11.2%) compared to the national average of 17.9%. The percent of people getting exercise or doing physical activities within the last 30 days (77.8%) is only 1.6% higher than the national average, however, this is a 3.2% increase from the previous AFI report in 2010. Los Angelinos fall at the low end of communities in which residents report being in excellent or very good health (48.8%, just a few points above the MSA low of 46.4%.

The city ranked 45th on community/environmental indicators related to the built environment, recreational facilities, park-related expenditures, physical education requirements and primary health care providers with a score of 33.9 out of 100 possible points. The metro area scored poorly in the number of recreational facilities per capita.

Despite its average scores on built environment indicators, the city has witnessed a propensity toward Smart Growth planning principles. Walk Score recently gave Los Angeles a score of 95 out of 100 and called it a “Walkers Paradise”. This is important because it lends to the physical and financial health of the residents and businesses in the community.

For a complete list of the L.A.’s strengths and challenges, plus a breakdown of the components that helped make up its score, please visit the AFI website and download the Los Angeles report at www.americanfitnessindex.org/report.htm.

Spotlight on Jacksonville: Health and Fitness in Florida’s Largest Metro Area

Posted November 20th, 2011

Today’s post takes a look at the metropolitan statistical area of Jacksonville, Fla., inclusive of Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau, and St. Johns counties. Jacksonville is the largest city by land area in the contiguous United States and boasts one of the largest urban park systems in the country.

Jacksonville ranked 31st in the most recent ACSM American Fitness Index™ (AFI) data report, which evaluates the 50 most populous city areas and identifies the healthiest and fittest places in the United States. The metro area earned a score of 46.7 (out of 100 possible points) in 2011, dropping it into the lower half of ranked areas, from a rank of 24th and a score of 51.2 in 2010.

Florida’s largest metro area ranked 36th on personal health indicators related to health behaviors, chronic health problems and health care.

While Jacksonville fell near average in categories related to physical activity, it combined a much higher than average percentage of smokers (21.3%) with a lower than average percentage of people eating 5+ servings of fruits and vegetables per day (20.5%), indicating fair health behaviors for the area.

Additionally, Jacksonville residents ranked average in most areas related to chronic health problems, had higher percentages of diabetics and deaths related to diabetes.

The area ranked 28th on community/environmental indicators related to the built environment, recreational facilities, park-related expenditures, physical education requirements and primary health care providers.

Jacksonville’s greatest asset to its built environment is its parkland acreage at 57.2 acres per capita, it ranks much higher than the MSA average of 18.9 acres per capita. Furthermore, the metro area’s recreational facilities ranked higher than the MSA average in categories including ball diamonds, park playgrounds, park units, recreation centers and swimming pools.

Moreover, Jacksonville residents have the advantage of a number of natural resources including miles of beaches, waterways, and preservation lands.

For a complete list of the Jacksonville’s strengths and challenges, plus a breakdown of the components that helped make up its score, please visit the AFI website and download the Jacksonville report at http://www.americanfitnessindex.org/report2.htm.

Spotlight on Milwaukee: Health and Fitness in Wisconsin’s Largest City

Posted October 31st, 2011

Today’s post takes a look at the metropolitan statistical area of Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis in Wisconsin. The fictional home of The Fonz, Richie Cunningham, Laverne and Shirley, is more accurately famous for its tradition as a brewing and manufacturing town.

Milwaukee ranked 21st in the most recent ACSM American Fitness Index™ (AFI) data report, which evaluates the 50 most populous city areas and identifies the healthiest and fittest places in the United States. The metro area earned a score of 51.8 (out of 100 possible points) in 2011, moving up from a rank of 27th and a score of 49.2 in 2010.

Wisconsin’s largest metro area ranked 17th on personal health indicators related to health behaviors, chronic health problems and health care.

Milwaukee has an above-average percentage of smokers (18.9%) among the 50 metro areas included in the AFI data report. And residents of this region are above average at getting physical activity. Seventy-nine percent of residents report getting physical activity in the last 30 days and 53% report being physically active at least moderately.

The percentage of residents with chronic health concerns is typically just below average. Nine in 10 residents have health insurance.

The area ranked 34th on community/environmental indicators related to the built environment, recreational facilities, park-related expenditures, physical education requirements and primary health care providers. The area has an above average number of farmers’ markets (22.4/1,000,000). Milwaukee scored very low on the number of recreation centers and tennis courts and spends only $59 per capita on park-related expenditures (the MSA average is $101.5).

Walk Score recently ranked Milwaukee as the 15th most walkable of the 50 largest U.S. cities. Milwaukee also lies on Lake Michigan, making it a popular venue for water activities such as sailing and windsurfing.

For a complete list of the Milwaukee’s strengths and challenges, plus a breakdown of the components that helped make up its score, please visit the AFI website and download the Milwaukee report at www.americanfitnessindex.org/report.htm.

Milwaukee

Spotlight on San Jose: Health and Fitness in Silicon Valley

Posted October 12th, 2011

Today’s post takes a look at the metropolitan statistical area of San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara in California. The area is often called Silicon Valley thanks to being the headquarters of tech giants such as Apple, Cisco Systems, eBay, Facebook, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Google, Sun Microsystems and Yahoo!.

Silicon Valley ranked 11th in the most recent ACSM American Fitness Index™ (AFI) data report, which evaluates the 50 most populous city areas and identifies the healthiest and fittest places in the United States. The metro area earned a score of 65.2 (out of 100 possible points) in 2011, moving up from a rank of 14th and a score of 61.0 in 2010.

People take their personal health seriously in the booming metro areas south of San Francisco. The area ranked 3rd on personal health indicators related to health behaviors, chronic health problems and health care.

Silicon Valley has the lowest percentage of smokers (8.8%) among the 50 metro areas included in the AFI data report. And residents of this region are good at getting their fruits and veggies – 29.3% rep

orted eating 5+ servings of fruits/vegetables per day. The percentage of residents with chronic health concerns is relatively low, including a metro-area low of only 4.5% residents having asthma. Almost 92% of residents have health insurance.

The area ranked 24th on community/environmental indicators related to the built environment, recreational facilities, park-related expenditures, physical education requirements and primary health care providers.

Despite its average scores on built environment indicators, the area has witnessed a propensity toward Smart Growth planning principles. Walk Score recently ranked San Jose as the 19th most walkable of the 50 largest U.S. cities.

For a complete list of the Silicon Valley’s strengths and challenges, plus a breakdown of the components that helped make up its score, please visit the AFI website and download the San Jose report at www.americanfitnessindex.org/report.htm.

San Jose Skyline

Spotlight on Minneapolis/St. Paul

Posted October 5th, 2011

Earlier this year, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) released the annual ACSM American Fitness Index (AFI) data report. This report evaluates the 50 most populous city areas and identifies the healthiest and fittest places in the United States.

For the first time, the metropolitan statistical area of Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington edged out previous leader Washington, D.C. for the top spot with a score of 77.2 (out of 100 possible points). The metro area ranked 3rd with a score of 71.7 in 2010.

Minneapolis-St. Paul took the lead thanks to greater improvements in healthy behavior measures and a reduction in the percentage of smokers. The Twin Cities ranked 2nd on personal health indicators related to health behaviors, chronic health problems and health care. The area ranked 2nd on community/environmental indicators related to the built environment, recreational facilities, park-related expenditures, physical education requirements and primary health care providers.

Several factors contributed to the Twin Cities’ top ranking. The area has the highest percentage of residents who report getting physical activity or exercise in the last 30 days (85.9%) and relatively low smoking rate (15.3%). In the Twin Cities, the percentage of residents with chronic health concerns such as obesity, asthma, cardiovascular disease and diabetes is moderate-to-low. Another factor is that 92.9% of residents have health insurance.

While the area reduced park-related expenditures this year ($203 per capita), its percentage of parkland is still above average (16.7%), as is the percentage of recreational facilities (other than swimming pools). Farmers markets in the area also increased this year, indicating a trend in healthier eating.

In a future blog post, we’ll look at some of the programs, attractions and projects that are working to keep the Twin Cities in the top spot. For a complete list of the Twin Cities’ strengths and challenges, plus a breakdown of the components that helped make up its score, please visit the AFI website and download the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area report.

The Healthy Food Retailer Initiative

Posted May 21st, 2010

The Healthy Hartford Campaign is focusing on health messaging and involving the community in actively considering their health through exercise, nutrition counseling and skills building. Smaller retailers want to improve the nutritional quality of the groceries they sell. Grocers are being encouraged to shift 5% of there inventory of junk foods to healthy choices. Measurements have confirmed that Healthy Food Retailers have shirted 8% of their junk food inventories to regular groceries since 2007. To find out more information on this program visit their website.

100 Mile Club

Posted May 14th, 2010

The Pinellas County Health Department teamed up with the County Parks and Recreation Department to offer a walking program called, The 100 Mile Club. This program promotes physical activity and also brings more citizens to county and city parks. To become a member, participants just keep track of the miles that they walk on the walking log. Once participants reach 100 miles, they submit their log to Pinellas County Health Department and they will receive a club member t-shirt in the mail. The program started out in October 2005 and it’s membership has grown to more than 560 members. To find out more information about this program and how to become a member go to their website.