America’s Fittest Cities – ACSM

The annual American Fitness Index is well-intentioned but conflicting metrics dilute its focus.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has released their sixth annual American Fitness Index (AFI) which “evaluates the infrastructure, community assets and policies that encourage healthy and fit lifestyles in the 50 most populous metro areas in the United States.”

I’m going review their study and tell you what they did right, and where the ACSM could improve their analysis.  In fact, I’ll show you how in their effort to make a great study, they actually ended up making their index much weaker.

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Best Baseball Cities

A baseball lies in a freshly fallen leaves

October!  The most special month of the year for every baseball fan.  The World Series determines the best baseball team, but did you ever wonder which place can lay claim to the best baseball city?

We wondered too, and thought about what it means to be a great baseball town.  We decided it’s more than wins and losses, attendance, and championships.  It’s where there’s a batting cage in every backyard, kids sleep with their mitts, and families spend their entire weekend at the Little League field.

We realized that every big-league ballplayer represents thousands of kids who once dreamed playing in the Big Show.

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America’s Coolest Cities

rock and roll musician Lou Reed

This July was the hottest on record in the U.S. and 2012 is on track to be our hottest year ever. You better believe Americans are cranking the A/C and heading for the swimming holes.

But when it comes to my “cool cities” study, I’m talking about the other kind of cool.  The sunglasses, Levi’s and t-shirt James Dean cool.

I worked with Forbes with their article to find where the youth of America are headed, where it’s “happening.”  Would you believe Houston comes out on top?  Last year H-town sported a vigorous 2.6% job growth while welcoming over 50,000 new residents to the area, many of them young professionals.

We looked at recreational opportunities, such as amount of green space, golfing and skiing, and pro and college sports teams.

We also used my Diversity Index, which measures the likelihood that someone you meet will be of different race or ethnicity.  Higher diversity translates to a greater number of cool stores, events, and eateries.

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Sleepless Cities

The results of our newest study were released today on the CBS show, Sunday Morning.  Louisville, KY earned the top spot of Most Sleepless City, and Honolulu residents got the best rest in our study of insomnia.
(see the video clip on CBS)

Our new study ranks the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the United States, home to fully half of the U.S. population.  The Sperling study analyzes over 400,000 responses from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (the world’s largest telephone survey, conducted annually by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), and also considers factors contributing to poor sleep,
such as joblessness, divorce, and lengthy commuting.

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Best Cities for Seniors

I just completed a really in-depth study on the best metro areas for seniors to live in.  Minneapolis came in first, with Boston and Pittsburgh rounding out the top three.  There’s an overview of the study here, with the top 25 cities:

2011 Best Cities for Seniors

We considered nine broad categories, each consisting of several specific measures:  Healthcare, Economy, Health & Longevity, Social Life, Environment, Spiritual Life, Housing, Transportation, and Crime.

Here you can download a PDF of the entire study, with all 50 cities ranked, as well as full methodology and detailed city writeups:

Best Cities for Seniors Full Study

In the PDF, we’ve even broken how cities scored in each of the individual categories.  For example, the #1 city for Environment was San Francisco, whereas the #1 city for Housing was Oklahoma City.