News / Health

Fittest US Cities Take Exercise Publicly, Personally

A runner ascends the steps leading up to the west side of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., Oct. 18, 2012.  The steps are a popular spot for fitness enthusiasts.
A runner ascends the steps leading up to the west side of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., Oct. 18, 2012. The steps are a popular spot for fitness enthusiasts.
Reuters
— U.S. cities that provide parks, walking trails, playing fields and running tracks are setting standards for the country's healthiest urban areas and showing that if they build fitness opportunities, residents will come.
    
A new ranking of the 50 healthiest U.S. cities weighs “community indicators” that include everything from obesity rates and percentage of smokers to the number of baseball diamonds and tennis courts.
    
“Community indicators and personal health pretty much follow each other,” said Walter Thompson, the chairman of the American College of Sports Medicine's American Fitness Index Advisory Board, which compiled the report.
    
Despite its bone-chilling winters, Minneapolis-St. Paul topped the list for the third year in a row. High obesity and smoking rates placed Oklahoma City at the bottom.
    
Minnesota's Twin Cities understand that at certain times of year they will be buried in snow, and so they have created lots of places to exercise indoors, Thompson said. The report also notes Minneapolis-St. Paul's generous per-capita number of dog parks, golf courses and baseball diamonds.
    
More than 76 percent of Minneapolis-St. Paul residents reported exercising in the past 30 days.
    
Minnesota is sometimes referred to as the land of 10,000 lakes, and the natives appear to use every one of them.
    
“We have a lot of triathlons because we have so many lakes,” said Minneapolis-based fitness expert Chris Freytag. “There is a lake every 5 miles, so you can't get far from a lake with biking paths, windsurfers, kayaks. Water is a motivator.”
    
The index relied on information from municipalities and federal government data, such as Centers for Disease Control and U.S. Census reports.
    
Washington D.C., Portland, Oregon; San Francisco and Denver scored well in the fitness stakes, while Memphis, Tennessee; Louisville, Kentucky; San Antonio, Detroit and Oklahoma City were the least healthy.
    
Robust park-related spending helped Portland spring to third place from seventh in 2012 and Denver move to fifth position from ninth.
    
Anne Graves, director of health initiatives and partnerships for the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis, sees her city's 45th place ranking as a challenge and an opportunity.
    
“We use AFI as our guide,” said Graves, adding that the YMCA has convened a coalition of community partners to focus on AFI points, from increasing the number of farmers' markets and bicycle lanes to encouraging physicians to emphasize the importance of exercise.
    
The California cities of San Francisco, Sacramento and San Jose fell within the top 10 on the list.
    
American Council on Exercise spokeswoman Jessica Matthews said California's beautiful weather, daily farmers' markets and abundance of parkland were only part of the story.
    
“California public schools have pretty high standards for physical education,” said Matthews, a former physical education teacher living in 14th-ranked San Diego, California. “Great habits are instilled at a young age.”

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid