Austin climbs in latest fitness poll

Early morning runners get in their exercise on the Roy and Ann Butler Hike and Trail as the sun rises on Lady Bird Lake east of the Ann Richards Congress Avenue bridge. RALPH BARRERA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN
View Caption Hide Caption
Early morning runners get in their exercise on the Roy and Ann Butler Hike and Trail as the sun rises on Lady Bird Lake east of the Ann Richards Congress Avenue bridge. RALPH BARRERA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Early morning runners get in their exercise on the Roy and Ann Butler Hike and Trail as the sun rises on Lady Bird Lake east of the Ann Richards Congress Avenue bridge. RALPH BARRERA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Early morning runners get in their exercise on the Roy and Ann Butler Hike and Trail as the sun rises on Lady Bird Lake east of the Ann Richards Congress Avenue bridge. RALPH BARRERA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Another fitness poll came out today, and Austin climbed five spots to tie with Raleigh, North Carolina, for the 15th fittest large metropolitan area in the United States.

The American Fitness Index, compiled by the American College of Sports Medicine and the Amerigroup Foundation, uses data from the U.S. Census, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, The Trust for the Public Land City Park Facts and other existing research data to formulate its list. (To see a complete list of data components, go here.)

Washington, D.C., Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Denver topped the list. Indianapolis, Oklahoma City and Louisville pulled up the rear.

The metropolitan statistical area of Austin-Round Rock scored 59.3 out of 100 possible points. It saw an 8.5 percent increase in the number of residents who reported being physically active and a 3.9 percent drop in the number of residents currently smoking.

Stand up paddleboarders navigate the waters around Lou Neff Point on Lady Bird Lake. RALPH BARRERA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Stand up paddleboarders navigate the waters around Lou Neff Point on Lady Bird Lake.
RALPH BARRERA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN

But how accurate is that? Could that many more people really be exercising here?

Maybe so. Maybe the steady stream of people moving to Austin has upped our fitness game even more. Or maybe more folks are just saying that they exercise.

I’m always skeptical of fitness polls. I think they give a general idea of a city’s fitness in comparison with other places, but I think different parts of each city are differently fit.

Here in Austin, we’ve got a core group of people who consistently get on the trail to run or walk. We’ve got a river full of kayakers, and swimming pools where you have to wait to get a lane. I see more and more people riding their bikes to work.

But just because a certain segment of the population works out regularly doesn’t mean the whole city is fit. Take a look at the folks in line at the grocery store. I see lots of not-so-fit folks out there.

Nationally, 60 percent of cities around the country earned higher scores on the index this year compared to last. The main reason? Nearly 12 percent more people who took the poll this year reported that they exercised in the last 30 days. (Really? Just once and it counts?)

The poll also reported a 4.7 percent drop in the number of people who smoked and a 5.2 percent increase in how much people spent on going to parks. Also, twice as many states had policies in 2016 that required physical education at the elementary, middle or high school level

Scores dropped in a few places, including Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orlando, Sacramento and San Diego.

Amerigroup Texas Medical Director Dr. Brandon Charles encourages all Texans to exercise for at least 30 minutes and participate in 10 minutes of stretching and light muscle training five days a week.

Here’s the full list, including this year’s ranking, last year’s ranking and final score:

  • 1. (1) Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV 77.9
  • 2. (2) Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI 76.7
  • 3. (6) Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO 72.6
  • 4. (7) Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA 69.6
  • 5. (4) San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA 69.3
  • 6. (8) Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA 69.0
  • 7. (9) Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH 67.0
  • 8. (12) Salt Lake City, UT 65.5
  • 9. (11) Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT 65.3
  • 10. (3) San Diego-Carlsbad, CA 64.1
  • 11. (10) San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 63.4
  • 12. (17) Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI 63.1
  • 13. (5) Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, CA 62.4
  • 14. (14) Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA 62.3
  • 15.5. (20) Austin-Round Rock, TX 59.3
  • 15.5. (13) Raleigh, NC 59.3
  • 17. (19) Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD 56.5
  • 18. (18) Richmond, VA 55.1
  • 19. (15) Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC 54.6
  • 20. (33) Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI 54.2
  • 21. (28) Providence-Warwick, RI-MA 54.2
  • 22. (24) New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA 53.8
  • 23. (16) Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN 52.7
  • 24. (22) Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD 52.3
  • 25. (25) Cleveland-Elyria, OH 52.1
  • 26. (27) Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL 51.7
  • 27. (21) Pittsburgh, PA 51.3
  • 28. (20) Saint Louis, MO-IL 50.9
  • 29. (23) Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA 50.8
  • 30. (26) Kansas City, MO-KS 50.3
  • 31. (35) Jacksonville, FL 49.5
  • 32. (30) Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL 48.2
  • 33. (42) New Orleans-Metairie, LA 46.0
  • 34. (37) Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ 44.9
  • 35. (32) Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY 43.6
  • 36. (34) Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA 42.7
  • 37. (41) Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 42.2
  • 38. (38) Columbus, OH 41.6
  • 39. (43) Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC 41.4
  • 40. (39) Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX 40.6
  • 41. (31) Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV 40.4*
  • 42. (40) Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI 40.4*
  • 43. (36) Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL 40.3
  • 44. (44) Birmingham-Hoover, AL 39.4
  • 45. (47) San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX 35.0
  • 46. (45) Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN 34.2
  • 47. (49) Memphis, TN-MS-AR 33.3
  • 48. (46) Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN 31.8
  • 49. (48) Oklahoma City, OK 29.5
  • 50. (50) Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN 26.6

View Comments 0