May 25 2010

American Fitness Index-How Fit Is Your City? Graehm Gray

It’s that time a year, my friends, where we all find out if we live in a “fit” or “non fit” city. The 2010 American Fitness Index (AFI), sponsored by The American College Of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the Wellpoint Foundation is now officially out and we all can see the areas of the country that are considered fit and those that are, well, at the other end of the spectrum-“least fit.”

Developed in 2007, this AFI Report is a measure of the fitness of various cities and communities across the United States, using “  a composite of preventive health behaviors, levels of chronic disease conditions, health care access, as well as community resources and polices that support physical activity, “and allows officials, residents and potential residents to see the health statistics in their community. This can help identify ways to improve the health and “quality of life and well-being” of the residents of that particular community. In addition to the fitness components of the community, violent crime statistics are also shown for each community. The index uses the 50 largest metropolitan areas of the United States as determined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (from data supplied by the U.S. Census).

Regular physical activity is important to your health by decreasing risks of heart disease, stroke, obesity, and depression and helps improve muscles and joints. Exercise is fundamental in weight control. Part of the problem with childhood obesity is related to less physical activity of our kids and a more sedentary lifstyle for our adolescents and teens.

The list goes from fittest to least fit. Top 10 Fittest Cities are as follows:

  1. Washington, D.C.
  2. Boston, MA
  3. Minneapolis, MN
  4. Seattle, WA
  5. Portland, OR
  6. Denver, CO
  7. Sacramento, CA
  8. San Francisco, CA
  9. Harford, CT
  10. Austin, TX

The Bottom ten “least fit” cities are as follows:

41. New Orleans, LA

42. Houston, TX

43. San Antonio, TX

44. Indianapolis, IN

45. Las Vegas, NV

46. Louisville, KY

47. Detroit, MI

48. Memphis, TN

49. Birmingham, AL

50. Oklahoma, OK


Oklahoma, considered the 2010 “least fit” city was found to have a high percentage of households below the poverty level; a high percentage of obese (one out of every three people are obese) and diabetic residents (10.5 percent); fewer tennis courts, swimming pools, baseball diamonds, recreation centers and parks per capita. Washington, D.C., the “fittest” city was a complete contrast to Oklahoma with less percentage of the residents that smoked, were obese and had heart disease. In addition, more residents of D.C.:  a. were in excellent or very good health, b. bicycled to work, c. smoked less, ate more fruits and vegetables and had more parks, tennis courts and recreation centers in their communities.


The bottom line: it’s obvious to me that when you have lots of recreation areas (e.g. tennis courts, basketball courts, parks, etc.), the opportunity to exercise is more available. That doesn’t mean you will take advantage of it. But availability is important. It also means that you and your children can be healthy, fit and eat smart no matter where you live. It’s up to you! What these stats show is that there are communities out there that need to invest in its residents for the betterment of their health and quality of their life.  Providing nutritional and fitness support is one way to improve a person’s quality of life. Providing safe exercise areas for its residents should be the norm for cities and communities. Newcomers to an area may look at this report to find a place they want to live and raise children. When prospective parents think of a place to start a family, do they want to go where one out of every three residents is obese?


My friends, you have to want to be healthy. You have to want your children to be healthy too. But it doesn’t stop there. Just living in Washington D.C. doesn’t make you all of a sudden healthy and fit. You have to work it! And living in Oklahoma doesn’t make you unfit! This is a wakeup call for all of the administrators for the bottom cities on this list—you have a job to do. And a wakeup call for all of the unfit people that live in the “fittest” cities-what are you waiting for- opportunity is all around you.

In the end-it’s all up to us, individually. So, “Let’s Move,” “Make it so,” “Avanti,” “Vamos,” get the picture!!

Stay fit and healthy the New Nerdel Way!


To read more please visit:

Read the AFI Report:

Please visit the: American College of Sports Medicine:

To find out more about the Wellpoint Foundation, please visit their web site:



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