Pittsburgh gets high marks for city's outdoor options

| Monday, Aug. 19, 2013, 8:06 p.m.

Maybe Pittsburghers don't get enough credit for their fitness and activity levels.

Our city is among the top in the nation for recreational activities, according to a recent study.

NerdWallet.com, a consumer-advocacy site, rated Pittsburgh No. 10 in a study about the best American cities for recreational activities. Minneapolis is No. 1. The study looked at the number of recreational facilities a city has, the acres of parkland as a percentage of a city's area, the number of recreation and senior centers and the number of playgrounds. San Francisco-based NerdWallet researchers used data from the Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit group that conserves land for parks and the like. They rated cities proper, not greater metropolitan areas, based on the numbers, says Divya Raghavan, the NerdWallet senior analyst who did the study.

“Pittsburgh seems to have such high numbers because of ... recreation and big-league sports teams,” Raghavan says. “Pittsburgh has community foot races throughout the year, rec centers and also a surprising amount of senior community centers.

“We're celebrating city governments really making sure that activity is a priority,” she says.

Timothy Ishman, assistant director of recreation for Citiparks, says he is flattered to be included in the same category as Minneapolis, which got the No. 1 spot. He is familiar with that city's park system.

“I think it's great,” Ishman says. “We work really hard to provide quality of life for the residents. We're real fortunate to have what we have in the city, there's no doubt about it.”

One Pittsburgh parks feature that sticks out is Frick Park's Lawn Bowling Green in Point Breeze, Raghavan says.

The study aims to tell health-conscious people about potential cities to live in, and about opportunities in their current cities, she says.

“As a consumer-advocate website, we do a lot of studies on topics that are important to consumers, and health is important to consumers,” Raghavan says.

“If parks and recreational opportunities are something you value, we think you should definitely check that out, if you want to live in a big city ... but still be outdoors,” she says. “Your options aren't just suburbs and rural areas.”

Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at kgormly@tribweb.com or 412-320-7824.

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