“According to the 2011 American Fitness Index (AFI) data report, “Health and Community Fitness Status of the 50 Largest Metropolitan Areas,” which evaluated the most populous city areas to identify the healthiest and fittest places in the United States, Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington edged out previous leader Washington, D.C. for the top spot this year.”
When I first read the press release (thank you Leslie!), I don’t know which shocked me more – that Washington D.C. was #1 last year (Last I heard in my 1990’s current events class, they were all crime-ridden and beset with snipers and people like Linda Tripp, none of which are at all good for anyone’s blood pressure) or that Minneapolis got the #1 spot this year after the year we’ve had. In case you don’t follow Midwestern weather reports, let me summarize: last summer we had more tornadoes than any state in the nation, last fall we had record flooding, this winter we had the coldest day on record and the 2nd largest snow fall in history and so far this spring has been one the coldest and wettest ever seen – all facts that I have spent the last year whining about. Loudly. (Also weird: that the report lumps Bloomington in with Minneapolis and St. Paul – that’s like putting Chino in with Los Angeles and Long Beach.)
If anything us Minnesotans deserve an award for being the #1 most patient state in the Union.
Although I suppose it makes sense – what with all the snow shovelling, sand bagging, canoe rowing, basement stairs running (and Auntie Em joking), tree limb hauling, generator lugging and shivering, by golly of course we’re the healthiest and fittest state in the Nation! You know how they say that taking a cold bath every day is good for you because it increases (good metabolism enhancing) brown fat? (Okay, so now you do.) Well living in Minnesota is like one long cold shower. It sure sucks being in it but I guess it’s good for us. Or something.
Anyhow, this got me thinking about what criteria make a place “healthy and fit”. Again, from the AFI, “Several factors contributed to the Twin Cities’ ranking, including a relatively low smoking rate, an above-average percentage of exercising residents and moderate-to-low rates of chronic health concerns such as obesity, asthma, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. While the area reduced park-related expenditures this year, its percentage of parkland is still above average, as is the percentage of recreational facilities (other than swimming pools). Farmers markets in the area also increased this year, indicating a trend in healthier eating.”
That last bit clearly shows they have never been to a Minneapolis farmer’s market in the winter. You can buy (frozen) meat, (frozen) dairy, and (chilled) eggs. Also 27 varieties of beer. But they’re right about everything else. And duh, of course we have less swimming pools than average; when you can only use them during the 3 Electrical Storm months they’re not exactly cost effective. For as much as I complain about the weather, people here are really dedicated to living healthy. Whether it’s the lingering Scandinavian sensibilities (and adorable accents! You should hear them say “no” here – even that words sounds nice when extended to 6 syllables inflected with a lilt.) or just the effect of living in a place that still practices “survival of the fittest”, Minnesotans have figured out how to make exercise and healthy food accessible to pretty much everyone.
What is unique about where you live that helps you be healthier and fitter? If you’re in the US, how did your city score? Do you really want to live to 100 if it means you have to take an ice bath every day? Really??