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Out-of-Shape Accusations

Houston flunks national fitness test, but we're not the least fit big city in Texas

News_Memorial Park_park_jogging
Memorial Park is one of the most popular jogging spots in Houston. But apparently not enough Houstonians are making it out to the trails.  Courtesy photo

Don't be fooled by the throngs of people running at Hermann Park or biking along Buffalo Bayou. According to the experts, Houston gets a failing grade for fitness. Out of the 50 metropolitan areas surveyed, Houston came in at No. 35. That equates to an overall score of 44, on a scale of 100.

To determine the rankings, American College of Sports Medicine researchers examined preventative health behaviors, chronic disease levels and community resources that support physical activity.

 Out of the 50 metropolitan areas surveyed, Houston came in at No. 35. That equates to an overall score of 44, on a scale of 100. 

Although the American Fitness Index has been around since 2008, the 2014 rankings include new variables and are therefore not comparable to the six previous reports. This year, researchers culled data from the U.S. Census, the CDC and community Walk Scores. Cities that fared similarly to Houston include Phoenix, and Las Vegas.

But Houston does have its bright spots. The study sited Houston's low asthma percentage compared to other cities (only 4.9 percentage of Houston residents suffer from asthma, according to the report,which we find a bit surprising since H-Town is not known for good air quality), its abundance of park land per capita, and its high percentage of city land area dedicated to park land.

All other categories went downhill from there, including percentage of residents who are obese, or have diabetes and heart disease. Not surprisingly, these health problems went hand-in-hand with poor health habits such as not getting enough exercise or meeting requirements for fruit and vegetables.

Washington, D.C., came in at No.1, with a score of 77.3. Minneapolis, Portland, Denver and San Francisco rounded out the top five.

Austin earned the highest ranking in Texas at the No. 14 slot and a score of 60.6. Dallas slid in just behind Houston at No. 38.

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