Are We Fit or Fat?

Men’s Fitness magazine has published it’s annual rankings of The Fittest and Fattest Cities in America. They ranked Colorado Springs as the fittest city, and Las Vegas as the fattest city. Here are how some of the other cities in our region fared in the rankings:

A few interesting notes:

  • Denver residents are into fitness bicycling — they do it about 126 percent more than average, the highest overall rate among cities in the survey.
  • There is a higher percentage of mountain bikers in Denver than almost anywhere else in the survey — 11.5 percent of residents. The national average is 2.5 percent.
  • Despite wide availability of local running and biking trails, as well as high air quality, Oklahoma City residents are 30 percent less likely than average to jog or cycle.

As for Colorado Springs, the article contains a good bit of information about how it achieved its exalted ranking, detailing a bit about the culture of the place, and the wealth of fitness-related amenities that the city provides. For example:

Fittingly, this city full of athletes is also a city full of trails. Colorado Springs residents made an important investment in 1997 when 51% of them voted for TOPS — Trails, Open Space, and Parks — a 1/10 of 1% sales tax that generates $6 million a year to acquire undeveloped land of environmental interests. (The plan came up for an extension in 2003; 68% said yes.)

Christian M. Lieber, a landscape architect with aspirations of one day cycling across the country with his family, manages TOPS for the city parks department. Unfurling a big map, Lieber explains how he’s turning one of Colorado Springs’ least attractive features-sprawl-into an asset. About a third of the city remains undeveloped, so he has his eye on huge parcels that could remain open as the housing market revives, uniting far-flung neighborhoods. Springs officials believe growth, conservation, and fitness can all happen together. “We recognize that growth and development are good for our economy. But we try to find a balance,” Lieber says.

One final quote, from a Colorado Springs resident who had previously lived somewhere in Kansas: “This is by far the most fit, activity-driven community I’ve ever lived in. In Kansas, when you get together socially, it’s all around food. In Colorado when you get together socially, it’s at a trailhead.”

Congratulations to Colorado Springs, and to a less extent, Denver, Kansas City, and Omaha. Wichita and (especially) Oklahoma City — you need to step it up!

About The Author

By Randy Rasa, editor/webmaster at Kansas Cyclist, the web's premier Kansas cycling information site, featuring authoritative guides to Kansas cycling clubs, bike shops, organized bike rides, touring, trails, and much more. [learn more]

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