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Allegheny

Report: Pittsburgh has best fitness resources among major U.S. cities

Jeff Himler
| Wednesday, May 16, 2018, 10:54 p.m.
Runners take off from the starting line at the PIttsburgh Marathon and half-marathon on Sunday, May 6, 2018.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Runners take off from the starting line at the PIttsburgh Marathon and half-marathon on Sunday, May 6, 2018.

Pittsburgh ranks first among the 100 largest U.S. cities when judged by community features that promote a fit population.

But, adding health statistics into the mix, the 'Burgh came in at just 36th place overall in the annual American Fitness Index report released this week by the American College of Sports Medicine.

Pittsburgh scored 55.1 points out of a potential 100 in the analysis conducted in partnership with the Anthem Foundation. The index also looked at health-related behaviors, health outcomes and local policies that support a physically active lifestyle.

Arlington, Virginia, is in first place overall, with a score of 77.7. Rounding out the top five most fit are Minneapolis (77.2), Washington, D.C. (74), Madison, Wisconsin (72.4), and Portland, Oregon (71.6).

Cleveland is listed in 49th place, with a score of 49.2; Philadelphia's score of 39.8 places it in the 82nd spot.

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, is in last place, with an overall score of 26.3.

Pittsburgh is tops — with a score of 81.3 out of 100 — when considering a range of fitness factors related to community and environment. But other cities scored better for specific factors.

Cleveland, with a broad community/environment score of 64.4, is the top city for swimming facilities — with 10.9 pools per 100,000 residents. Pittsburgh has 6.1 pools for the same number of city dwellers.

Washington, D.C., dominates in the percentage of people bicycling or walking to work — 18.3, compared to 12.9 in the 'Burgh.

Madison swept three recreational categories — with 7.1 park playgrounds, 9.8 basketball hoops and 11.6 park units per 10,000 residents. In comparison, Pittsburgh has 4.1 playgrounds, 3.6 hoops and 6.9 park units.

As one might expect, Anchorage, Alaska, aced the parkland categories; it has 2,992.9 acres of parkland for every 1,000 residents, accounting for 84.2 percent of the city territory. Parkland covers 10.4 percent of Pittsburgh, the equivalent of 11.9 acres per thousand residents.

When focusing on personal health statistics, the report places San Jose, California, at the pinnacle, with a score of 86.8. Cleveland is at No. 79, with a score of 35.7, and Pittsburgh is in 88th place, scoring 31.8. Philadelphia trails at No. 97, with a score of 20.3.

Looking at individual health categories, San Francisco has the lowest obesity rate, 15 percent, and Madison has the lowest prevalence of high blood pressure, 18.5 percent. Pittsburgh's respective numbers are 28.3 percent and 34.1 percent. Smokers account for just 5.9 percent of the population in Arlington, compared to 19.5 percent in Pittsburgh.

The Fitness Index report draws upon data from sources such as the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Census American Community Survey and the Center for City Park Excellence of the Trust for Public Land.

The ACSM provides an online tool that shows comparisons among city scores. Still, it notes that the index rankings aren't meant to be competitive, but to permit the cities' planners to “assess their level of health and fitness, assess areas that could use improvement, and to increase their scores over time.”

The full report is available at americanfitnessindex.org.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6622, jhimler@tribweb.com or via Twitter @jhimler_news.

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