Washington DC Is The Nation’s Fittest City

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This article is courtesy of ACSM, please share your comments below…..

joggersResidents of the nation’s capital, followed by Minneapolis-St. Paul, and San Diego enjoy a variety of outdoor exercise options and have relatively low rates of smoking, obesity and diabetes. That combination of measurable health and community indicators makes them the three fittest of the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S.

Oklahoma City, Memphis and Indianapolis rank last among the 50 metro areas studied in the eighth annual American Fitness Index® (AFI) ranking being released today by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the Anthem Foundation. View the rankings and individual metro data here.

There’s good news and areas of concern from the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. The AFI reveals a troubling 11.3 percent drop in the percentage of individuals who exercised in the last 30 days, and a 7.8 percent increase in the diabetes death rates from 2014 to 2015. The AFI ranking also notes a 5.5 percent drop in those who eat enough fruit each day. Five metro areas dropped significantly in the rankings, falling five or more positions.

On the more positive side, there was also a 9.5 percent decrease in the percentage of respondents who reported that they had been diagnosed with angina or coronary heart disease, and a 5.5 percent increase in the number of park units from 2014 to 2015. Nine metro areas improved their ranking by five or more positions.

With funding from The Anthem Foundation, ACSM studies Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) using a composite score to measure the health of each MSA. Access to public parks was added as a new measure in 2015, and the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria metro area topped the list for the second consecutive year with a score of 79.6 out of 100 possible points, a two-point improvement over 2014.

“The AFI is two things: a measure of how healthy a metro area is today, and a call-to-action for urban and suburban leaders to design infrastructures that promote active lifestyles and lead to positive health outcomes,” says Walter R. Thompson, Ph.D., FACSM, chair of the AFI Advisory Board. “Our goal is to provide communities and residents with resources that help them assess, respond and achieve a better, healthier life.”

“We have proudly sponsored the American College of Sports Medicine American Fitness Index® for the past eight years and have witnessed the growing impact this report can have on the health and well-being of communities,” said Sam Nussbaum, MD, chief medical officer for Anthem, Inc. “Across the United States, government, business and organizations have proven that by working together we can improve the health of our cities. These coalitions are using the actionable data from this report to drive health improvement. It is heartening to see a city’s health improve, and this year there were some remarkable shifts in rankings. Opportunities remain and measurement, shared learning and commitment to healthier lifestyles will benefit individuals, our cities and our nation.”

Last year, ACSM also released its first series of AFI data trend reports recapping and documenting progress during a five-year period for each metro area. You can learn more about community health data trends in a given area by going here.

Because physical inactivity has become an epidemic in the U.S., ACSM encourages Americans to exercise for at least 30 minutes and participate in 10 minutes of stretching and light muscle training five days a week. Modeling healthy behavior by reducing sedentary time, incorporating activity into the weekday schedule, joining walking clubs, setting goals and involving family and friends can improve fitness, reduce the risk of chronic disease and enhance quality of life.

At the community level, the AFI data report can be 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.

ACSM is a global leader in promoting the benefits of physical activity and advocates for legislation that helps government and the health community make it a priority. ACSM encourages Congress to support continued funding of parks, trails and safe routes to school, as well as the need for all Americans to meet the prescribed physical activity recommendations included in the National Physical Activity Guidelines, and the need for the guidelines to be regularly updated every 10 years.

View the rest of the article here.

Finding Play Areas In Unique Places

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kidsexercisevectorFrom Your Health Journal…..”A fascinating article from News.com.au (from Australia) called Close roads to let kids out to play – which discusses a very important topic, lack of play areas for children. With cutbacks to physical education, recreation programs, longer hours at school and home work, and many other extra-curricular activities, limited space for play is an important topic. Childhood obesity continues to rise – heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, weak joints, low self esteem, and other chronic illness all tie into lack of physical activity available to children. The article points to one expert who suggests using ‘safe’ roof tops and ‘closing’ city streets as play areas. The article suggests if there are no spaces to build playgrounds, other alternatives need to be used. Please take the time to visit the News.com.au web site (link provided below) to read the complete article.”

From the article…..

City streets should be closed to cars in afternoons so children can play and rooftops should be turned into safe play spaces, a world leading health and planning expert says.

The proposal by Dr. Karen Lee targets a severe shortage of places for children as schools go high rise, crowded classrooms don’t have enough space for jump rope competitions and residents fight playground plans. Dr. Lee is New York City’s award-winning healthy urban planning expert, who has helped reverse childhood obesity rates in the city and will address NSW government planners today.

She said Sydney’s severe play space shortage could be easily dealt with by opening city roofs and streets to fun.

Space-strapped cities such as Sydney, with neighborhoods that were “fully built”, could host “play streets” for children to skate, ride bikes and scooters without car danger, she said.

“If there is space to build playgrounds and parks then we should do so but we have neighborhoods, already fully built, and we may not have enough play space for the kids,” she said.

Dr Lee said it had worked successfully in NYC, where single blocks were closed to cars at certain times.

“It can occur weekly or every day at certain times and it is opened up for children to play,” she said.

Dr Lee said soccer lessons could be held and neighbors meet to get to know one another.

There was strong evidence that having space for active play increased physical activity in children and adults.

To read the complete article…..Click here