Tag: American Fitness Index

Physically active families: Creating healthy habits this fall

In many ways, Fall is a “new year” for American families. For those whose annual schedule revolves around the academic calendar, fall is a time for new beginnings and fresh starts. In the spirit of back-to-school season, ACSM’s American Fitness Index hosted a Twitter chat with some of our subject matter expert members who offered advice to families looking to kick-off the school year with healthier habits.

Plan to eat for success

First, Tanya Halliday, Ph.D., R.D. chimed in on tips for eating seasonally, packing healthy lunches and feeding families under the most serious of time-crunches.

“Apples and pumpkin get a lot of action in the fall. Rightfully so—they are delicious, nutritious and versatile produce. But don’t overlook other fall produce like zucchini, eggplant, cantaloupe, pears and others that are in season in many parts of the U.S.”

Halliday also offered a Seasonal Produce Guide  for knowing which fruits and vegetables are in season throughout the year. It’s important to know what produce is the freshest when visiting your local farmers’ market or grocery store!

As far as packing healthy, well-rounded lunches for school and work? Planning ahead is key!

“Plan lunches for the week with your children,” Halliday suggests. “If they are involved in prepping and packing they are more likely to eat it!” Planning ahead also allows you to accurately pack a balanced meal, as opposed to throwing things in a bag during a rushed morning only to find out later that you’ve completely missed key nutrients.

Think about pre-portioning foods, like an individual bag of carrot sticks with a small container of hummus, to make mornings very grab-and-go. It’s also worth-while to invest in insulated lunch bags and ice packs that will keep food at a safe temperature and reduce the risk of food poisoning.

With full family schedules, mornings can be rushed and dinners are often on-the-go or scheduled at home with little time to prepare.

“Planning, prepping, bulk cooking and convenience items can help during the rushed days,” Halliday shared. “I am all about bulk cooking and taking advantage of the freezer for storage.”

Additionally, there are many make-ahead breakfast options like overnight oats and, when dinner is rushed, fast options like frozen vegetables in a steam bag can get meal prep done in a flash!

Encouraging active play

We all know that it’s easy to come home from work or school and lay down on the couch for some TV or internet surfing. Avery Faigenbaum, Ed.D., FACSM, shared his thoughts on how to keep moving and make fitness a family affair.

“Walk the dog, ride bikes, play ball or even bring out the hula hoops!” he said, emphasizing the importance of the whole family having fun while being active together. “Each week try to plan at least one activity together [as a family]—outdoor play, a pick-up game or a hike at a local park.”

But what about when the weather turns too cold or rainy to be outside? “Move the furniture aside and have dance parties,” Faigenbaum suggested. “Let each family member pick a song and get dancing.” Balloon volleyball and indoor hopscotch are other easy ways to get moving, even if you’re in a confined indoor space.

Our favorite suggestion? “Create an indoor zoo full of animal movements!” Faigenbaum added. “Think crocodile planks, bunny hops, frog squats and mountain goat climbers.” To learn more about Faigenbaum’s approach to keeping kids active and healthy, check out his recent article is ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal.

These are all great ideas, but how do you know if your family is getting enough physical activity to be healthy? “Kids need to accumulate at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day,” Faigenbaum says. “And it does not need to be 60 consecutive minutes.” For adults, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week, done in at least 10-minute intervals. It is also recommended to complete resistance training of each major muscle group 2-3 times per week.

The key takeaway for healthy active families is fun. As long as everyone is enjoying the activity, they will keep moving!

Seeking out community resources

Many communities across America have facilities and other resources to help your family stay active year-round. Dr. Walt Thompson, Ph.D., FACSM and 61st President of the American College of Sports Medicine, reminded families that city parks and recreation centers are great options if your outdoor space is limited or the weather restricts your activities. Your local Parks & Recreation Department should have a full list of available facilities on their website.

Do you think that your local community could improve its offering of resources for health and wellness? Download the American Fitness Index®’s Community Action Guide to learn how you can make a difference in the health of your own community!

10th Annual American Fitness Index Reveals Minneapolis-St. Paul as the Newest “Fit City”

Half of metro areas saw scores improve

Indianapolis (May 16) – The twin cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul edged Washington, D.C. in the 10th annual American Fitness Index (Fitness Index) rankings released by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the Anthem Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc.  The nation’s capital held the top spot for the past three years and improved its score in 2017, but Minneapolis-St. Paul still finished on top despite the challenges of being a northern state with hard winters. (Link – View the rankings and individual metro data here or at the chart below.)

San Francisco-Oakland finished third this year, Seattle-Tacoma fourth, San Jose fifth, Boston sixth and Denver seventh. The top seven cities in the 2017 Fitness Index are between 4-13 percentage points ahead of the rest of the pack, principally related to lower rates of smoking and cardiovascular disease deaths and higher reported physical activity, consumption of fruits and vegetables, and per capita park expenditures in their communities.

Nationally, there were some remarkable positive shifts during the last year:

  • 16.0% increase in the percent who met the recommendations for aerobic and strength in the last 30 days
  • 10.5% drop in the percent with diagnosed angina or coronary heart disease
  • 3.9% increase in walkability scores
  • 3.9% increase in the percent who live within a 10-minute walk to a park
  • 3.7% increase in the total park expenditures per capita
  • 4.0% increase in the number of recreation centers per 20,000 residents

Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) with the greatest improvement in their rankings since last year included San Jose, Los Angeles, Miami, Buffalo, Orlando and Las Vegas.

The 2017 Fitness Index rankings also revealed some shortcomings over the past year:

  • 11.7% increase in the rate of diabetes deaths
  • 6.3% reduction in the percent of residents biking or walking to work
  • 6.2% decrease in the percent of individuals eating the recommended number of servings of fruit
  • 4.6% reduction in the number of tennis courts per 10,000 residents

MSAs experiencing the largest drop in their rankings this year included Virginia Beach, Richmond, Providence, Philadelphia, Kansas City, New Orleans and Charlotte.

Against the backdrop of its 10th anniversary,  the Fitness Index offers some insightful long-term trends:

    • Smoking rates have declined (18.7% to 16.7%)
    • Drops in the death rates for diabetes (24.0/100,000 to 18.7/100,000) and cardiovascular diseases (223.0/100,000 to 174.6/100,000)
    • The number of farmers’ markets have increased (11.0/1,000,000 to 19.8/1,000,000)
    • Increases in the percent of residents using public transportation to work doubled (2.1% to 4.4%)
    • Residents biking or walking to work doubled (1.3% to 2.9%)
    • Total park expenditures per capita increased ($100 to $106)

Conversely, the 10-year comparison of Fitness Index indicators uncovered some challenges:

    • The percent categorized as obese increased (25.4% to 28.7%)
    • The percent self-reporting as having excellent or very good health declined (55.6% to 52.1%)
    • The percent diagnosed with asthma increased (8.2% to 9.0%), as did the percent with diabetes (8.0% to 10.7%)

The ACSM American Fitness Index provides evidence-based data and a number of valuable resources that help cities promote healthy lifestyles.  To aid communities in promoting physical activity and enhancing quality of life, ACSM and Anthem Foundation developed and released  the Community Action Guide offering an overview of the critical decisions and factors related to effective community action:  https://americanfitnessindex.org/community-action-guide/

“Our ultimate goal is to offer individuals, families and communities trusted resources that can help them assess, plan and implement policies that promote positive health outcomes,” said Walter R. Thompson, Ph.D., FASCM, who chairs the Fitness Index Advisory Board and is president-elect of ACSM. “Ten years of evidence-based data offers these cities and their citizens valuable insights into how to substantively improve elements leading to healthier lives and reduced health care costs.”

“As the American Fit Index celebrates its 10th year, it’s a great opportunity to celebrate the efforts of communities and their leaders who have effectively used the data to make measurable changes that are helping improve the health and wellness of their residents,” said Craig Samitt, MD, chief clinical officer, Anthem, Inc. “While the improvements we are seeing are worth celebrating, we know there is still more that can be done. We are proud of our foundation’s work and collaboration with ACSM to offer science and evidence for communities to create a culture of healthy lifestyles.”

At the community level, the Fitness Index has been used as an assessment and evaluation tool to educate community leaders on the importance of key indicators of physical activity. Leaders can then focus on policy, systems and environmental change strategies that are evidence-based and create sustainability for the community.

The 2017 ACSM American Fitness Index rankings are as follows:

2017 Rank2016 RankMetropolitan Area2017 Score
12Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI80.2
21Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV79.2
35San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA73.3
46Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA72.2
511San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA71.6
67Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH71.5*
73Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO71.5*
84Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA67.7
98Salt Lake City, UT66.3
1010San Diego-Carlsbad, CA65.6
1113Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, CA63.3
1215.5±Austin-Round Rock, TX61.2
139Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT60.5
1415.5±Raleigh, NC58.6
1512Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI58.4
1629Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA55.7
1714Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA55.0
1822New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA54.5
1926Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL54.1
2017Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD54.0
2120Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI53.9*
2223Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN53.9*
2332Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL52.6
2435Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY52.5
2543Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL52.3
2628Saint Louis, MO-IL51.6
2719Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC50.7
2825Cleveland-Elyria, OH50.0
2927Pittsburgh, PA49.0
3018Richmond, VA48.9
3121Providence-Warwick, RI-MA48.4*
3224Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD48.4*
3334Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ47.3*
3441Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV47.3*
3531Jacksonville, FL46.0
3630Kansas City, MO-KS45.0
3736Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA44.5
3837Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX43.2
3933New Orleans-Metairie, LA41.7
4040Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX39.0
4138Columbus, OH37.4
4246Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN36.8
4342Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI35.8
4445San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX34.7
4547Memphis, TN-MS-AR33.2
4644Birmingham-Hoover, AL31.2
4739Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC30.3
4850Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN29.9
4949Oklahoma City, OK29.4
5048Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN23.1

±There was a tie in the ranking between the MSAs.

*The scores shown have been rounded to the nearest tenth of a point resulting in some apparent ties; however, the rankings are based on the full calculated score values that were not equal in those cases.

Methodology

ACSM, the Indiana University School of Family Medicine and a panel of 26 health and physical activity experts developed the methodology to analyze U.S. Census data; data from 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.

ACSM is a global leader in promoting the benefits of physical activity and advocates for legislation that helps government and the health community make it a priority. ACSM encourages Congress to support continued funding of parks, trails and safe routes to school, as well as the need for all Americans to meet the prescribed physical activity recommendations included in the National Physical Activity Guidelines, and the need for the guidelines to be regularly updated every 10 years.

The data is made up of personal health, community and environmental indicators. Visit the online newsroom at www.AmericanFitnessIndex.org for a complete list of the data components.

About the American College of Sports Medicine

The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 50,000 international, national and regional members are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.   More details can be found at http://www.acsm.org/

About Anthem Foundation

The Anthem Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc. and through charitable contributions and programs, the Foundation promotes the inherent commitment of Anthem, Inc. to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that Anthem, Inc. and its affiliated health plans serve. The Foundation focuses its funding on strategic initiatives that address and provide innovative solutions to health care challenges, as well as promoting the Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets specific disease states and medical conditions. These disease states and medical conditions include: prenatal care in the first trimester, low birth weight babies, cardiac morbidity rates, long term activities that decrease obesity and increase physical activity, diabetes prevalence in adult populations, adult pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations and smoking cessation. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s year-round Associate Giving program which provides a 50 percent match of associates’ pledges, as well as its Volunteer Time Off and Dollars for Doers community service programs. To learn more about the Anthem Foundation, please visit http://www.anthem.foundation and its blog at http://anthemfoundation.tumblr.com.

Infographic: 2017 ACSM American Fitness Index

According to the 2017 ACSM American Fitness Index, the top 10 fittest cities in the U.S. are:

  1. Minneapolis, MN
  2. Washington, DC
  3. San Francisco, CA
  4. Seattle, WA
  5. San Jose, CA
  6. Boston, MA
  7. Denver, CO
  8. Portland, OR
  9. Salt Lake City, UT
  10. San Diego, CA

Share this infographic and the Fitness Index with your local leaders to start a conversation on making your city a healthier place for all residents.

Washington, D.C., Claims Top Ranking on Annual Fit City Index

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), with support from the WellPoint Foundation, unveiled its seventh annual American Fitness Index® () data report during the organization’s annual meeting. The 2014 data report, “Health and Community Fitness Status of the 50 Largest Metropolitan Areas,” reflects a composite of preventive health behaviors, levels of chronic disease conditions, and community resources and policies that support physical activity.

Capturing the top ranking is the Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) of Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV, with a score of 77.3 (out of 100 possible points).

The 2014 edition of the data report uses revised methods from the first six full-edition reports released from 2008 to 2013. New variables, including each community’s Walk Score ranking,have been added or modified and some variables have been removed to improve and enhance the 2014 data report. Consequently, comparisons of scores, sub-scores and rankings for 2014 should not be made with earlier reports. Benchmarks for each data indicator, which were added in 2013, highlight specific areas for improvement.

“Health advocates and community leaders have come to expect the arrival of the American Fitness Index as an annual check-up regarding their community’s health and fitness levels,” said Walter Thompson, Ph.D., FACSM, chair of the Advisory Board. “The data report is a snapshot of the state of health in the community and an evaluation of the infrastructure, community assets and policies that encourage healthy and fit lifestyles. These measures directly affect quality of life in our country’s urban areas.”

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 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.

The data examined fall into two categories: 1) personal health indicators and 2) community and environmental indicators.

Targeted Technical Assistance at the Local Level 

In 2013, ACSM received a $157,782 grant from the WellPoint Foundation to present this year’s data report and to work with community organizations in Cincinnati, Las Vegas and Miami throughout 2014 to initiate locally driven health improvement efforts. By translating key data from the report, ACSM will provide technical assistance to these priority metro areas, which were selected based on local opportunity and interest.

A previous grant from the WellPoint Foundation in 2011 enabled ACSM to pilot technical assistance efforts in Indianapolis and Oklahoma City. This led to initiatives such as “Top 10 by 2025,” a vision to make Indianapolis one of the top 10 healthiest communities in the U.S. by 2025, and Wellness Now, a plan to improve the health and wellness of Oklahoma City and County.

“As the founding sponsor, WellPoint Foundation is proud to provide continuing support for the ACSM American Fitness Index and its healthy lifestyle measurement and improvement endeavors,” said Lance Chrisman, executive director of the WellPoint Foundation. “The technical assistance program identifies actionable areas with the best evidence for improving health, focuses on doing the most good for the most residents – with a high priority on underserved populations – and works to make a community-wide impact quickly.”

The technical assistance project is an integral part of an overall evaluation plan for to determine what key health indicators for communities can be effectively modified. WellPoint Foundation’s support for ACSM, the report and technical assistance program is part of its continuing commitment to address health disparities and improve public health across the country.

Through its State Health Index – a state-by-state compilation of public health measures – and Healthy Generations program, the WellPoint Foundation works to identify the issues most in need of attention and then directs its charitable support and volunteer efforts toward improving health in those areas. Reducing cardiac mortality rates, promoting active lifestyles and addressing the long-term health threats posed by childhood obesity are major focus areas of the foundation.

The metropolitan rankings in the 2014 report are:

RankMetropolitan Area2014 Score
 1.Washington, D.C.77.3
2.Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.73.5
3.Portland, Ore.72.1
4.Denver, Colo.71.7
5.San Francisco, Calif.71.0
6.San Jose, Calif.69.4
7.Seattle, Wash.69.3
8.San Diego, Calif.69.2
9.Boston, Mass.69.1
10.Sacramento, Calif.66.9
11.Salt Lake City, Utah65.7
12.Hartford, Conn.63.8
13.Raleigh, N.C.61.5
14.Austin, Texas60.6
15.Chicago, Ill.56.6
16.Atlanta, Ga.56.0
17.Pittsburgh, Pa.54.8
18.Cincinnati, Ohio54.5
19.Los Angeles, Calif.53.4
20.Philadelphia, Pa.52.9
21.Richmond, Va.52.3
22.Virginia Beach, Va.52.0
23.Providence, R.I.51.6
24.New York, N.Y.51.5
25.Baltimore, Md.50.8
26.Miami, Fla.49.0
27.Charlotte, N.C.48.1
28.Riverside, Calif.47.5
29.Buffalo, N.Y.47.2
30.Jacksonville, Fla.46.6
31.Tampa, Fla.46.0
32.Milwaukee, Wis.45.7
33.Cleveland, Ohio45.4
34.Kansas City, Mo.45.1
 35.Houston, Texas44.0*
36.Phoenix, Ariz.44.0*
37.Las Vegas, Nev.43.7
38.Dallas, Texas42.6
39.New Orleans, La.42.4
40.Columbus, Ohio41.3*
41.St. Louis, Mo.41.3*
42.Orlando, Fla.40.8
43.Detroit, Mich.37.3
44.Birmingham, Ala.35.9
45.San Antonio, Texas35.6
46.Nashville, Tenn.32.5
47.Indianapolis, Ind.32.3
48.Oklahoma City, Okla.31.6
49.Louisville, Ky.25.7
50.Memphis, Tenn.24.8

*Scores have been rounded to the nearest tenth of a point, resulting in some apparent ties; however, the rankings are based on the full, calculated scores that were not equal in those cases.

About the American College of Sports Medicine

The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world.  More than 50,000 international, national and regional members are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.

About the WellPoint Foundation

The WellPoint Foundation is the philanthropic arm of WellPoint, Inc. and through charitable contributions and programs, the Foundation promotes the inherent commitment of WellPoint, Inc. to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that WellPoint, Inc. and its affiliated health plans serve. The Foundation focuses its funding on strategic initiatives that address and provide innovative solutions to health care challenges, as well as promoting the Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets specific disease states and medical conditions. These disease states and medical conditions include: prenatal care in the first trimester, low birth weight babies, cardiac morbidity rates, long term activities that decrease obesity and increase physical activity, diabetes prevalence in adult populations, adult pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations and smoking cessation. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s year-round Associate Giving program which provides a 50 percent match of associates’ campaign pledges, as well as its Volunteer Time Off and Dollars for Doers community service programs. To learn more about the WellPoint Foundation, please visit www.wellpointfoundation.org and its blog at http://wellpointfoundation.tumblr.com.

 

For more information contact:

Today Show Looks to ACSM for America’s Healthiest City

To help kick off 2014, The Today Show looked at where in America you should go if you want to be “healthy, wealthy and wise”.

In their search for evaluating America’s healthiest cities, the show’s producers examined a number sources and ultimately settled on the ACSM American Fitness Index®. For the past three years Minneapolis/St. Paul has earned the highest ranking.

ACSM and the Fitness Index Advisory Board are honored to be considered as the best measure of a “healthiest” city. It’s a testament to the research and planning that went into creating the Fitness Index and the work to update the rankings each year since 2008.

For the segment on The Today Show, journalist Craig Melvin spoke with runners and bikers using the city’s expansive trails and paths, highlighted Minneapolis’ robust park and recreation system, and featured a healthy food program called Urban Roots.

The segment also included a portion of an interview with Fitness Index Advisory Board Chair Dr. Walt Thompson.

Check out the segment and read the story on The Today Show website. The 2014 report will be released in May ahead of the ACSM Annual Meeting.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Minneapolis-St. Paul Tops Fit List for Second Straight Year

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® ().

Made possible by a grant from the WellPoint Foundation, the 2012 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.

Check out the Quick View to see how each metro area ranked. A full copy of the 2012 data report is available at https://americanfitnessindex.org/report.

The 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 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 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.

The data examined fall into two categories:

  1. Personal health indicators
  2. Community and environmental indicators

Building a Healthier Chicago!

ACSM has been proud to work with Assistant Surgeon General Dr. James M. Galloway in the early years of the ACSM American Fitness Index. Dr. Galloway spoke about the importance of the data report to the Building a Healthier Chicago! initiative upon the launch of the program in 2008.

Building a Healthier Chicago! is a collaborative endeavor between the American Medical Association, the Chicago Department of Public Health, and the Office of the Regional Health Administrator of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Region V.

The goal of the campaign is to improve the health of Chicago’s residents and employees through the integration of existing and new public health, medicine and community health activities.

The campaign involves several programs including:

  • F.I.T. City: A restaurant initiative to develop and promote F.I.T. (Fresh, Innovative, and Tasty) menu options through partnerships with restaurants, chefs, culinary schools, health advocates, and community groups.
  • Focus Community: Specific program to help the Austin community, located on Chicago’s west side, gain access to healthy foods. Austin is the most densely populated community within Chicago, but has no chain supermarket thus residents have limited access to healthy foods. Parts of Austin have even been designated as “food deserts.”
  • Building a Healthier Chicago’s Agribusiness: A project aimed to set up markets in food deserts to give residents access to affordable fruits and vegetables. The program worked with the DePaul University Graduate School of Business to create a simple market concept- sell food for a dollar each – two apples for a dollar, four potatoes for a dollar, etc.
  • “Federal Employees: Active and Healthy…Working Well”: A worksite wellness program for federal employees aimed to improve the culture of the city’s federal workplaces to encourage employee wellness through healthy eating, and various physical activities.

Chicago ranked 28th 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 48.9 (out of 100 possible points) in 2011.

The metro area ranked 34th on personal health indicators related to health behaviors, chronic health problems and health care, and 21st on community/environmental indicators related to the built environment, recreational facilities, park-related expenditures, physical education requirements and primary health care providers.

Pertinent to Building a Healthier Chicago, only 22.5% of the population reports eating 5+ servings of fruits/vegetables a day. However, the area has an above average number of farmers’ markets (17.7/1,000,000).

Building a Healthier Chicago! operates under the Social Ecological Model, which acknowledges how environmental factors impact the decisions people make. This model combines these multiple perspectives and promotes a healthy environment/lifestyle suited for the social space in which people live, eat, work and play.

For more information, please visit: healthierchicago.org.

Building a Healthier Chicago

Oklahoma City’s Wellness Now Initiative

From time to time, we like to highlight community initiatives and programs that are making a difference. Wellness Now is a community-led initiative in Oklahoma City, Okla., aimed at addressing the city’s health problems. Oklahoma City ranked 50th 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 24.6 (out of 100 possible points) in 2011.

Oklahoma City struggles with a wide variety of health problems including obesity and tobacco use, both of which are contributors to heart disease, diabetes and other chronic illnesses. The study reports 28.6% of the city’s population being obese and 22.8% currently smoking. As a result, the city ranks 50th in personal health indicators with a score of 15.6.

Wellness Now, started in April of 2010, is a collaboration between nearly 100 community partners including schools, health care professionals, elected officials from all levels of government, faith-based and community-based organizations, and private sector companies all dedicated to making necessary changes in order to create a healthy community. In addition to the program’s partners, Wellness Now relies heavily on people in the neighborhoods to participate in surveys and community forums.

The program is chaired by Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett and County Commission Chairman Ray Vaughn, and addresses the following public health priority areas:

  • Obesity
  • Mental Health
  • School Health
  • Senior Health
  • Tobacco Use Prevention
  • Obstacles to Health
  • Maternal & Child Health
  • Chronic Disease

For example, the program aims to increase access to and consumption of healthy, safe and affordable food, encourage physical activity, and promote local ordinances requiring 100% smoke-free workplaces. For more examples on specific actions for each of the above mentioned public health priority areas, check out http://www.occhd.org/community/wellnessnow/action

For more information on Wellness Now, visit http://www.occhd.org/community/wellnessnow or https://www.facebook.com/WellnessNowInitiative.

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

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® () 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 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

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

Kansas City Skyline