Tag: ACSM American Fitness Index

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

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® () 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 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 website and download the Milwaukee report at www.americanfitnessindex.org/report.htm.

Milwaukee

Introducing the Technical Assistance Project

To help communities improve the health of their residents, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) today introduced the American Fitness Index® () Technical Assistance Project. With support from the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation, the 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 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 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, 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 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.

Spotlight on San Jose: Health and Fitness in Silicon Valley

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® () 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 data report. And residents of this region are good at getting their fruits and veggies – 29.3% reported 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 website and download the San Jose report at www.americanfitnessindex.org/report.htm.

San Jose Skyline

Spotlight on Minneapolis/St. Paul

Earlier this year, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) released the annual ACSM American Fitness Index® () 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 website and download the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area report.

WellPoint Foundation Grant Aims to Improve Health

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) received a $171,880 grant from the WellPoint Foundation to present the 2011 ACSM American Fitness Index () data report and establish pilot programs to improve health. Now, by translating key data from the report, ACSM will provide technical assistance to low-ranking metro areas to help them improve health and fitness in their communities.

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From the Field with Dominique Ennis

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 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.

From the Field with NiCole Keith, PhD, FACSM

NiCole Keith, PhD, FACSM, discusses the state of health and fitness in Indianapolis. Dr. Keith gives particular attention to the role of public transportation on health and fitness and a built environment that encourages physical activity. Indianapolis ranked 44th in the 2010 data report.

Dr. Keith is an assistant professor in the Department of Physical Education at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis (IUPUI) and an affiliated research scientist in the Indiana University Center for Aging Research at Regenstrief Institute.

From the Field with Dr. Chad Asplund

Chad Asplund, MD, FACSM, comments on the state of health and fitness in Columbus, OH. Dr. Asplund, a family physician and competitive cyclist, says the city is striving to be a more bike-friendly community. Columbus ranked 35th in the 2010 data report. As a physician, Asplund advises his patients that exercise is good medicine.

Read more about Dr. Asplund.

From the Field with Stella Volpe, PhD, FACSM

Stella Volpe, PhD, FACSM, talks about the state of health and fitness in Philadelphia. Dr. Volpe says Philadelphia is not as active of a city as it could be. Philadelphia ranked 23d in the 2010 data report and has one of the highest obesity rates in the country.

Dr. Volpe shares some findings from a study on the top barriers to physical activity among Philadelphia residents. She also mentions the problems with “supermarket deserts.”

Dr. Volpe, a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania, is a nutritionist and exercise physiologist whose work on obesity prevention, body composition, bone mineral density, and mineral metabolism and exercise represent a ten-year track record of consistent funding.

Dr. Volpe is a core member of the Biobehavioral Research Center, an associated faculty member of the Center for Health Disparities in the School of Nursing, an associate scholar in the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, an associate faculty member in the Graduate Program in Public Health, a co-director in Excellence in Partnerships for Community Outreach, Research on Health Disparities, and Training (EXPORT), and a member of the Penn Diabetes Center, all in the School of Medicine. She is also a faculty associate in the Penn Institute for Urban Research, an interdisciplinary Center at Penn, and a senior fellow in the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics at Penn.

Dr. Volpe’s research revolves around the effects of the environment on obesity – both how the environment can be changed to prevent obesity, and how the environment has resulted in a more obese nation and world. Her interventions include changing portion sizes in cafeterias and making physical activity more a part of a person’s day to implement changes in behavior. She has also conducted a number of studies on mineral metabolism and how it affects exercise, thyroid hormone function, bone mineral density, and body weight. Dr. Volpe is a faculty member of the Physiology of the Body Compartment Fellowship Program in the Department of Neuroscience, Human Nutrition and Food at the Universita Degli Studi “Tor Vergata”, Roma, Italia.