Fit City No More
According to the American Fitness Index released Wednesday, Austin isn't as fit as it used to be. The 2014 index, which accounts for citizens in Austin, Round Rock and San Marcos, ranks Austin the 14th fittest city in the U.S. — a drop from our No. 11 ranking in 2013 and No. 10 ranking in 2012.
Cities were ranked according to personal health indicators as well as community and environmental indicators.
While our overall ranking fell, the 2014 report shows that Austin "achieved excellence" in a healthy mix of areas. Austin is rewarded for excellence in the following areas: higher percent consuming 3 or more vegetables per day; lower death rates for cardiovascular disease and diabetes; higher percent of city land area designated as parkland; more farmers markets per capita; higher percent bicycling or walking to work; more dog parks per capita; and more swimming pools per capita.
So why the drop in rank? The report outlines local indicators that need improvement, calling out Austin's higher percent of obese people, people with diabetes and people with asthma. Our lower Walk Score and lower percentage of people using public transportation for work were also noted, along with fewer ball diamonds, park playgrounds, gold courses, recreation centers and tennis courts per capita.
But it's not all bad news. Even though our national ranking slid, Austin still maintains its post as the Lone Star State's fittest city by far. Only three other Texas cities ranked in the top 50: Houston at No. 35, followed by Dallas at No. 38 and San Antonio at No. 45.
Washington D.C. was named the fittest city in the U.S. for 2014.