The American Fitness Index assesses key indicators and ranks the largest 100 U.S. cities by population and names one as the fittest city annually. What do you do if your community wasn’t large enough to be included in the rankings? How can you evaluate your community’s health and fitness? We can help you with that too! The Community Fitness Assessment was designed to help stakeholders in communities that were not included in the Fitness Index rankings by applying a similar approach to assessing their city’s community fitness and build understanding of the individual and societal factors related to physical activity in their community.
The Community Fitness Assessment will lead you through the steps to find data about your community, identify peer communities and then identify your community’s areas of excellence and opportunities for improvement.
Community Fitness Assessment Steps
- Describe your community
- Identify the communities you want to compare with your own
- Search for personal health indicator data
- Search for community/environment indicator data
- Consider the option of a Mini Community Fitness Assessment
- Interpret the results
- Use the Community Fitness Assessment profile to advocate for improved health and fitness
The Community Fitness Assessment is designed with collaboration in mind. That is, your community will likely need to build a team that represents multiple city departments and community organizations, including the health department, parks and recreation, transportation, planning and zoning, as well as other key community-based organizations and businesses. Members of this team can gather the most current local data needed to conduct the Community Fitness Assessment. This team can also engage community members to share the results and collect feedback on their priorities for addressing areas needing improvement.
Throughout the process of conducting the assessment, leadership and engagement from elected officials like mayors and city councilors will be vital to success. These elected officials play a key role in allocating funding and passing ordinances that can advance the community-identified priorities. For example, community members may need new streetlights installed in their neighborhood to make it safer and easier to walk or bike home from work in the evening. City officials can work with local utilities to develop a plan for funding and installing new streetlights starting in areas with the highest need.
The results of your Community Fitness Assessment won’t be directly comparable to the scores and rankings for the 100 American Fitness Index cities due to proprietary weighting of the indicators in the national index, but you will have a better idea of where your community is doing well and where there’s room for improvement. Using the American Fitness Index rankings, you can also identify cities that perform well on specific indicators to contact for advice in addressing your community’s needs.
If your community needs a little extra help getting your team started, you can also use the Community Action Guide which outlines the steps to build an effective team to advocate for healthy changes in your community.
We’d love to hear your feedback. Let us know how you used the Community Fitness Assessment here.