Fitness enthusiasts: Chicago's reputation needs your help!

Date: 
05/21/2017
Action

Fitness enthusiasts, Chicago needs you to encourage others to increase their fitness.

While half of the country's metro areas ranked improvement in the 10th annual American Fitness Index (AFI) released by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the Anthem Blue Cross Foundation (ABCF), Chicago went from 12th to 15th with a score of 58.4. 

The top seven cities in the 2017 AFI are between 4-13 percentage points ahead of the rest of the pack, principally related to lower rates of smoking and cardiovascular disease deaths and higher reported physical activity, consumption of fruits and vegetables, and per capita park expenditures in their communities. 

The 2017 AFI rankings are as follows:

2017 Rank

2016 Rank

Metropolitan Area

2017 Score

1

2

Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI

80.2

2

1

Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV

79.2

3

5

San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA

73.3

4

6

Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA

72.2

5

11

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA

71.6

6

7

Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH

71.5*

7

3

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO

71.5*

8

4

Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA

67.7

9

8

Salt Lake City, UT

66.3

10

10

San Diego-Carlsbad, CA

65.6

11

13

Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA

63.3

12

15.5±

Austin-Round Rock, TX

61.2

13

9

Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT

60.5

14

15.5±

Raleigh, NC

58.6

15

12

Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI

58.4

16

29

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA

55.7

17

14

Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA

55.0

18

22

New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA

54.5

19

26

Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL

54.1

20

17

Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD

54.0

21

20

Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI

53.9*

22

23

Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN

53.9*

23

32

Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL

52.6

24

35

Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY

52.5

25

43

Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL

52.3

26

28

Saint Louis, MO-IL

51.6

27

19

Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC

50.7

28

25

Cleveland-Elyria, OH

50.0

29

27

Pittsburgh, PA

49.0

30

18

Richmond, VA

48.9

31

21

Providence-Warwick, RI-MA

48.4*

32

24

Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD

48.4*

33

34

Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ

47.3*

34

41

Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV

47.3*

35

31

Jacksonville, FL

46.0

36

30

Kansas City, MO-KS

45.0

37

36

Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA

44.5

38

37

Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX

43.2

39

33

New Orleans-Metairie, LA

41.7

40

40

Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX

39.0

41

38

Columbus, OH

37.4

42

46

Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN

36.8

43

42

Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI

35.8

44

45

San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX

34.7

45

47

Memphis, TN-MS-AR

33.2

46

44

Birmingham-Hoover, AL

31.2

47

39

Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC

30.3

48

50

Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN

29.9

49

49

Oklahoma City, OK

29.4

50

48

Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN

23.1

Improving fitness
The American Fitness Index provides evidence-based data and a number of valuable resources that help cities promote healthy lifestyles. To aid communities in promoting physical activity and enhancing quality of life, ACSM and ABCF developed and released  the AFI Community Action Guide offering an overview of the critical decisions and factors related to effective community action. 

“Our ultimate goal is to offer individuals, families and communities trusted resources that can help them assess, plan and implement policies that promote positive health outcomes,” said Walter R. Thompson, Ph.D., FASCM, who chairs the AFI Advisory Board and is President-elect of ACSM. “Ten years of evidence-based data offers these cities and their citizens valuable insights into how to substantively improve elements leading to healthier lives and reduced health care costs.” 

Nationally, there were some remarkable positive shifts during the last year:

  • 16.0% increase in the percent who met the recommendations for aerobic and strength in the last 30 days
  • 10.5% drop in the percent with diagnosed angina or coronary heart disease
  • 3.9% increase in walkability scores
  • 3.9% increase in the percent who live within a 10-minute walk to a park
  • 3.7% increase in the total park expenditures per capita
  • 4.0% increase in the number of recreation centers per 20,000 residents 

Against the backdrop of its 10th anniversary,  the AFI Data Report offers some insightful long-term trends: 

    • Smoking rates have declined (18.7% to 16.7%)
    • Drops in the death rates for diabetes (24.0/100,000 to 18.7/100,000) and cardiovascular diseases (223.0/100,000 to 174.6/100,000)
    • The number of farmers’ markets have increased (11.0/1,000,000 to 19.8/1,000,000)
    • Increases in the percent of residents using public transportation to work doubled (2.1% to 4.4%)
    • Residents biking or walking to work doubled (1.3% to 2.9%)
    • Total park expenditures per capita increased ($100 to $106) 

Conversely, the 10-year comparison of AFI data elements uncovered some challenges: 

    • The percent categorized as obese increased (25.4% to 28.7%)
    • The percent self-reporting as having excellent or  very good health declined (55.6% to 52.1%)
    • The percent diagnosed with asthma increased (8.2% to 9.0%), as did the percent with diabetes (8.0% to 10.7%) 

The facts
The American Fitness Index provides evidence-based data and a number of valuable resources that help cities promote healthy lifestyles.  To aid communities in promoting physical activity and enhancing quality of life, ACSM and Anthem Blue Cross Foundation developed and released  the AFI Community Action Guide offering an overview of the critical decisions and factors related to effective community action. 

“Our ultimate goal is to offer individuals, families and communities trusted resources that can help them assess, plan and implement policies that promote positive health outcomes,” said Walter R. Thompson, Ph.D., FASCM, who chairs the AFI Advisory Board and is president-elect of ACSM. “Ten years of evidence-based data offers these cities and their citizens valuable insights into how to substantively improve elements leading to healthier lives and reduced health care costs.”

“As the American Fit Index celebrates its 10th year, it’s a great opportunity to celebrate the efforts of communities and their leaders who have effectively used the data to make measurable changes that are helping improve the health and wellness of their residents,” said Brian Ternan, President, Anthem Blue Cross.  “While the improvements we are seeing are worth celebrating, we know there is still more that can be done. We are proud of our foundation’s work and collaboration with ACSM to offer science and evidence for communities to create a culture of healthy lifestyles.” 

At the community level, the AFI data report has been used as an assessment and evaluation tool to educate community leaders on the importance of key indicators of physical activity. Leaders can then focus on policy, systems and environmental change (PSE) strategies that are evidence-based and create sustainability for the community. 

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