Boston Goes From Sixth to Ninth in Fitness Rankings

The report is designed to 'assist with community-level efforts to improve health and fitness.'

running along the Charles

Running along the charles. Photo by Lisa Decotis.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) released its seventh annual American Fitness Index (AFI) data report Wednesday, which highlights the health and fitness “status” of the 50 largest metropolitan areas. The Boston area, which according to the report is Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, went from sixth last year to ninth this year.

Say what?

The report is based on “a composite of preventive health behaviors, levels of chronic disease conditions, and community resources and policies that support physical activity.” The usual suspects of Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, Portland, Ore., Denver, and San Francisco rounded out the top five. No surprises there.

This is how they complied the scores:

The 2014 edition of the AFI data report uses revised methods from the first six full-edition reports released from 2008 to 2013. New variables, including each community’s Walk Score ranking, have been added or modified and some variables have been removed to improve and enhance the 2014 data report. Consequently, comparisons of scores, sub-scores and rankings for 2014 should not be made with earlier AFI reports. Benchmarks for each data indicator, which were added in 2013, highlight specific areas for improvement.

To assist with measurement and to provide a baseline measure of health and fitness status, ACSM worked with the Indiana University School of Family Medicine and a panel of 26 health and physical activity experts on the methodology of the AFI data report. Researchers analyzed the data gleaned from U.S. Census data, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), The Trust for the Public Land City Park Facts and other existing research data in order to give a scientific, accurate snapshot of the health and fitness status at a metropolitan level.

Who’s sick of rankings? While being in the top 10 is no small feat, being ninth isn’t that great, either. At least we beat NYC (ranked 24), so there’s that.

One week, we’re number one, the next, ninth. It’s all based on different methodology. In the end, all we can do is eat right, exercise, and try to be the best we can be. Take free fitness classes this summer, use local docs advice for aging better, and get some much-needed sleep.