Coalition to Increase City's Fitness Ranking Seems More Sincere

More than 40 Indianapolis-area organizations and businesses formed a coalition in May to create a culture of change and push their metropolitan area from a ranking of 43 in the American College of Sports Medicine's annual American Fitness Index to the top 10 by 2025, The Indianapolis Star reported. The ranking measures a variety of personal health behaviors and community and environmental factors affecting health and fitness levels, including the levels of smoking, obesity and diabetes as well as a lack of park land, recreation centers and tennis courts.

Though Indianapolis improved its ranking this year from 45th to 43th from last year, its two strengths (which were its number of golf courses and the state requirement for physical education classes) decreased, and its 19 weaknesses increased. However, the smoking rate decreased from 21.5 percent in 2011 to 19.8 percent this year, death rates from diabetes and cardiovascular disease decreased and a higher percentage of people in the city reported they are in excellent or very good health.

The people of Indianapolis are taking the first step of recognizing public health issues and addressing them.

The coalition, which formed about a year ago, has received assistance from Indianapolis-based American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Indianapolis-based WellPoint Foundation also gave ACSM $172,000 to help form the coalition in Indianapolis and similar efforts in Oklahoma City, which ranked last in the index, the Star reported.

Coalition members, which include hospitals, banks, universities, health agencies and businesses, decided to focus on four areas: increasing physical activity, improving nutrition, reducing the number of smokers and improving recreational facilities and other amenities, such as parks, recreation areas, trails, farmers markets and bicycle lanes.

Eric Ellsworth, president and chief executive of the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis, told the Star that the public attention given to the health crisis in America and in Indianapolis has awakened people to the issues and they are starting to commit themselves to personal lifestyle changes.

Nationally, the ACSM will help 10 cities jump-start their efforts within three years to bring together leaders and help develop priorities.

These community organizations could be the key to turning around our nation and even developing healthy habits that will last much longer. Their dedication and commitment to each other is really the start of something more that could be a means to curtail the obesity epidemic.

We've published plenty of reports about obesity in recent months, including a decline in youth obesity in higher-income children, urging you to take action and do something to help fight obesity in your community or warning that the push to get people exercising can also result in overuse injuries. But this post isn't a warning or news announcement, rather a little inspiration that groups are coming together to create change. Perhaps your fitness facility is or can be part of similar efforts.

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