Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Denver ranks as country’s fourth fittest city, study finds

Alexandra van Milligan does some yoga after running at the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison on March 31. (Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post)

Whether running around Sloan Lake, biking the Cherry Creek Trail or hiking the Fourtainer, Denverites are an active herd. According to the ACSM American Fitness IndexDenver is the fourth fittest city in the United States.

The study ranked the top 100 cities for fitness in the country based on individual and community metrics. Insight revealed that more than 82 percent of Mile High City residents exercised within the past 30 days. According to the study, more than half the population meets aerobic activity guidelines, with nearly 70% sleeping more than seven hours a day.

Dr. Nikolay R., president of the American College of Sports Medicine. “Physical activity is essential to human health,” Keith said in the study. “It is imperative that policy makers, educators, health care providers, and public health officials communicate the importance of physical activity and provide direction on how to be physically active safely.”

The study claims that nearly 90% of Denverites can walk in a park in less than 10 minutes, but the city’s community score lags behind its individual health score. The community score ranks 26th in the nation due to poor air quality and lack of need for physical education.

Despite Denver’s low scores as a community, Abby Mood, a yoga instructor who has lived in several states and currently lives in Glendale, said she has seen how active Coloradans are.

“Colorado certainly has a reputation for being a fit state, and it is well deserved,” Mood said. “In addition to regularly making the top five on lists of the healthiest or fittest states, I remember noticing a difference when I first moved to Colorado; People are always doing something or planning their next adventure. With different seasons and great weather overall, it’s very easy for people to stay active year-round, whatever their favorite activity.”

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The study pointed out that many large cities in the country were unwell before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“According to the 2011 American Fitness Index, on average, about a third of residents in the 100 largest U.S. cities are obese, 14% smoke, and 25% have reported no exercise in the past month. And all this was before the pandemic,” the study found. “Preliminary studies have indicated that during 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic reduced physical activity and healthy food intake, as well as increased obesity rates and stress.”

Denver has lower-than-average obesity and stroke rates, making its personal health statistic second in the nation.

“I think Denver’s location is a major factor in how many healthy and active people are around here,” Mood said. “The mountains are close, the foothills are close, and there are pathways and parks everywhere. The downside is that people can be unnecessarily competitive, and we’ve seen access issue pop up over the past few years. Still, if we can figure out a way to keep these places accessible and protected, Colorado will maintain its deserved reputation for years to come.

Top 10 fittest cities in the United States according to the study:

  1. Arlington, Va.
  2. Minneapolis, Minn.
  3. Seattle, Wash.
  4. Denver, Colo.
  5. Madison, Wis.
  6. Washington DC
  7. St. Paul, Min.
  8. Irvine, Calif.
  9. Portland, Ore.
  10. ATLANTA, GA.

Aurora is ranked 38th and Colorado Springs 51st for the fittest cities. Aurora also ranks as the ninth-highest number of residents who get seven or more hours of sleep a night.

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Denver ranks as country's fourth fittest city, study finds

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