WORST & BEST LISTING IN USA; WHICH HEADLINE WOULD GRAB YOUR ATTENTION? “Worst Cities for An Active Lifestyle” or “Best Cities for an Active Lifestyle”? The former title was chosen as the article of a news story posted on ACTIVE.com written by Jennifer Fox.
It must have been a wise choice because it caused me to explore the slideshow piece in detail. Maybe fear that I live in one of these ‘worst’ locations drove my interest. I was already formulating an argument to refute my city’s deserving this terrible recognition if it made the lowest 10.
Actually, I have lived in quite a few locations but my ‘home’ base has always been West Michigan. It’s snowy here and ‘lake effect’ cloudiness takes its toll on optimism; for days and weeks in the winter, fall, and spring the sun may not shine much. I love it there, though, and despite moving to several southern snow-less cities, and living in them for a few years, I have not changed my heart or mind on this topic.
Fortunately, the results of this particular analysis don’t suggest that ‘good’ weather is the most important predictor of a physically active population. Having a long waterfront is no guarantee either.
According to the WalletHub generated report, the 10 worst cities can be found in Florida, Nevada, Texas (4), California, New Jersey (2), and Tennessee.
The top 10 best cities are: Chicago IL, Portland OR, San Francisco CA, San Diego CA, Seattle WA, Madison WI, New York City NY, Denver CO, Boise ID, Minneapolis MN.
Earned Runs has posted about a similar topic in a previous post (re: WalletHub list of healthiest cities 2017) The methodology in any such ranking can be disputed. However, this particular report relies heavily (70 points of 100 total possible score) on the number of recreational areas available to assign high or low scores. It’s the “Sports and Outdoor” category. Included are number of baseball/softball diamonds, tennis courts, basketball hoops, swimming pools, playgrounds, parkland acres, skateboard parks, and golf courses.
Walk-ability counts. The ease with which cycling can be enjoyed earns big points (bike score, bike sharing and rental facilities). Running, walking, and hiking trails are tallied. The number of dance studios matter! Local governments and voters have some control on how money is spent, and thus can change these numbers over time. Communities with a strong tax base and/or access to philanthropic dollars may have an advantage (fair or unfair is another discussion).
There are a number of criteria that cannot be controlled by the local governments like proximity to a large body of water and to ski resorts, and weather. Air quality is given a full score, which is a complicated issue.
The “Budget and Participation” category contributes 30 points to the score total. This grouping of criteria concerns the affordability of activities like fitness center fees, and the cost of sports apparel, tennis court rentals, and bowling. Also considered is number of sporting goods stores, sports clubs, Little Leagues, intramural leagues, and pick-up soccer meet-ups. The share of physically INACTIVE ADULTS receives a full score. The article links to the methodology for more details.
This summary gives an idea of how the score that determines ranking is obtained. It’s not anywhere close to being a perfect method. However, we can look at our own places of residence, see where the low-scores might be deserved, and try to change them for the future.
If a recreational sport-league sport is created, do we sign up? Poor participation won’t encourage the township or city to sponsor others. If a parkland area is nearby do we ‘play’ there or bring children to enjoy it? Do we make an effort to keep it free of litter so that the beauty is maintained? There are so many questions that could be asked to guilt readers. You get the idea. That’s not the point of this post.
If you dreaded reading the WORST list, it’s possible you would very much value finding your city on the BEST list. And doing so might be energizing, and lead to personally increased physical activity and a healthier lifestyle.
Does having a championship winning sports team increase ticket sales, fan enthusiasm, and civic pride of a city? Revenues to the city and businesses? New regional development that encourages greater game attendance? I don’t know by experience, but that’s what appears to happen. Maybe something like it will transpire if a city wins an ACTIVE LIFESTYLE designation too. It can be great for the whole city, but perhaps best for individuals.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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