06/28/11

Minneapolis/ St. Paul Fitness: A Story in Three Visuals Minneapolis/ St. Paul Fitness: A Story in Three Visuals

From Joan Pasiuk, Bike Walk Twin Cities Program Director

 

The blogs are buzzing about the latest Minneapolis-Saint Paul ranking: America's fittest city. Determined by the American College of Sports Medicine, the fitness index accounts for personal health indicators (statistics on specific diseases, obesity, smoking levels, etc.) and community and environmental factors (health care access, community resources that promote fitness, etc.). See great coverage and insights in the article by Richard Florida in "The Atlantic," especially the positive correlation of fitness with income, education and innovation.

 

 

This is definite bragging-rights territory. We can feel good about feeling good.

 

The Living Streets Alliance blog looked at this distribution of metro fitness rank relative to bicycle commuting levels. See the chart below sourced from Ammerican Community Survey Data in 2005 and compiled by the Alliance for Biking and Walking. It's not the whole story, of course, but it's impossible not to understand that bicycle commuting is tied to community fitness. Investments in infrastructure and programs that support active transportation are well-advised community strategies with health payoff.

 

 

But digging a bit deeper, it is clear that accolades and benefits are disproportionate. America's fittest metro area has significant disparities. By just one measure, consider the incidence of obesity as presented by the Minneapolis Department of Health and Family Support.

Clearly, the work of achieving health is far from done. For Minneapolis-Saint Paul, there is a strong base to build on and a clear imperative for focusing resources on underserved populations. Bicycling and walking must be intentionally addressed as accessible transportation in our economically challenged neighborhoods.