Considered more of a call to action by the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Fitness Index in its second year has ranked 50 U.S. cities using various science-based health indicators.
Data to determine the rankings is unlike that used by other rankings by popular consumer magazines. This is collected by researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine and includes other health promotion experts around the country. Used in the lists and for detailed data available to the public is information such as rates of chronic disease, overall health and illness, community factors and environmental indicators.
To help not only the public but also businesses take advantage of the lists and the data, the document includes a community action guide (with links and resources) with information about how to improve an area’s health and fitness, and additional details for each area listed. The report was released May 30 by the American College of Sports Medicine at its annual conference, this year held in Seattle (which didn’t do too badly on the list). The guide gives additional information about establishing leadership in an area, building coalitions, guiding plans, and monitoring and evaluating results, as well as how to change public policy via advocacy.
In 2008, the first year of the rankings, the groups rated 16 metropolitan areas. This year, it was expanded to 50, although five cities didn’t have enough data to determine their ratings.
The top-ranked city this year was Washington, D.C. (2008: 4th); closely followed by Minneapolis/St. Paul (2008: unlisted); Denver (2008: unlisted); San Francisco (2008: 1st); and Boston (2008: 3rd). Least fit and healthy was Oklahoma City in 45th place, Detroit (44th), Birmingham, Ala. (44th), Las Vegas (42nd), and Houston (41st). Cities were measured based on their metropolitan statistical areas, which includes nearby suburbs.
To see the SNEWS 2008 story on the ratings, click here.
For the entire list of cities, more information about the program, tap into the community guide and see more detailed results, go to www.americanfitnessindex.org.
SNEWS® View: This is yet another opportunity to build community coalitions and for a store or company to be involved in events and grassroots publicity -- all of which can be good for building an area’s awareness of fitness and health, as well as your business. How about working with local leaders to determine ways to raise your city’s rankings? Your business can be on the front line.