Tag: Physical Activity

Spotlight on Washington D.C. – Health and Fitness in our Nation’s Capitol

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® (), 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 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 website and download the Washington D.C. report at www.americanfitnessindex.org/report.htm.

The Capitol Building

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

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

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

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.

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.