The annual American Fitness Index, was released today May 29 from the American College of Sports Medicine. The index is based on a number of health behaviors including exercise, smoking, rates of obesity, chronic health problems and access to health care.
The index also takes into account the environment of the city which includes availability of parks, recreational facilities, walking trails and farmers’ markets.
For the third year straight according to analysis of the 50 most populous metropolitan areas in the United States, the twin cities of Minneapolis-St.Paul — are the healthiest and fittest. Out of the top 50 most populous metropolitan areas, Cincinnati ranks #13.
“What Minneapolis has done brilliantly is put their resources where residents can use them effectively to maintain a high level of physical activity,” says Walt Thompson, chairman of the advisory board who created the index and a professor of exercise physiology at Georgia State University in Atlanta.
Minneapolis does better than other cities when it comes to the number of baseball diamonds, playgrounds, golf courses and dog parks, he says. The city spends double the amount of money on parks per capita ($227 a person) as some other cities, Thompson says.
“We really believe that if people don’t have the environment to exercise, they probably won’t,” he says.
Thompson offers suggestions to politicians and policy makers in cities that want to get healthier, he suggests to impose smoking bans not only in buildings but in all public places such as parks and outdoor eating areas of restaurants, and require physical education throughout high school. .
Parks in the city of Cincinnati sprawl 5,000 acres, which is approximately 10 percent of the City’s total land area.
According to the Cincinnati Parks Commission, Cincinnatians can look forward to new bike trails and greenway corridors, expansion of the parkway system, preservation of river and stream corridors and hillsides and improvements to neighborhood parks and regional parks.
Another positive policy which helps the city of Cincinnati, and all of the cities of Ohio is the statewide smoking ban. Ohio voters approved the indoor smoking ban in November 2006, making Ohio the first Midwestern state and the first tobacco-growing state to enact such a ban.
Tobacco advocates fought and still fight this law, citing that they have a right to smoke. Advocates for the law, counter that they have a right to breathe smokeless air, and not smell like an ashtray.
Below are the top 5 healthiest US cities, and where cities in the tri-state stack up.
1. Minneapolis-St. Paul
2. Washington, D.C.
3. Portland, Ore.
4. San Francisco
30. Columbus, Ohio
Check out the full list here