Twin Cities Is Healthiest Metro; MN Best for Seniors
With its variety of playgrounds, farmers’ markets, and health-conscious citizens, the Twin Cities topped the Annual Fitness Index (AFI) of healthiest cities in the country for the third year in a row.
Established six years ago, the AFI is an annual study by the American College of Sports Medicine that evaluates the infrastructure, community assets, and policies that encourage healthy and fit lifestyles in the 50 most populous metro areas in the United States.
Following the Minneapolis-St. Paul area was Washington D.C., Portland, San Francisco, and Denver, respectively.
Both personal and community health indicators factored into the ranking. According to AFI, the report “reflects a composite of preventive health behaviors, levels of chronic disease conditions, health care access and community resources, and policies that support physical activity.”
The Twin Cities ranked second in the personal and community health categories, earning it the first spot overall. Cincinnati topped community health, and Washington D.C. topped personal health.
The study found that the Twin Cities was well above average in its percentage of citizens who are physically active and bicycle to work, and below average in its percentage of citizens with a heart condition or diabetes.
The AFI also found that the Twin Cities has a higher-than-average number of farmers’ markets, dog parks, golf courses, tennis courts, recreation centers, and park playgrounds, and it dedicates more expenditures per capita to park-related facilities than most states.
The study did, however, list several areas of improvement for the Twin Cities: its high percentage of smokers, lack of swimming pools, and low percentage of citizens eating more than five servings of fruits or vegetables a day.
In a separate study, by the Minnetonka-based United Health Foundation, Minnesota was ranked as the healthiest state for seniors to live in. The study suggested that seniors who live in Minnesota are the healthiest in terms of individual health and access to key health and community resources.
Following Minnesota for senior health was Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Iowa, with Mississippi in last and Oklahoma next-to-last.
“The report is a comprehensive portrait of senior health designed to inspire new, effective solutions that meet the health care needs of this rapidly expanding demographic,” Reed Tuckson, senior advisor to the United Health Foundation said in a statement. “We are measuring senior health in order to help improve it.”
According to the foundation, Minnesota’s strengths include high rates of annual dental visits and drug coverage, high availability of home health care workers, and a low rate of seniors at risk of hunger.
“States with healthy seniors have a combination of positive personal behaviors and community support, which demonstrate that improving senior health will only come about by acting on individual, family, community, and state levels,” Tuckson said.
The foundation emphasized that senior health is a timely issue as the country’s senior population is expected to grow more than 50 percent between 2015 and 2030, with many seniors living longer but sicker lives.
As further evidence of Minnesota’s high level of senior assistance, a new senior living and care community in Chaska is hosting a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday. Dubbed “The Legends at Hazeltine,” the senior center will house 125 apartments and offer round-the-clock licensed care staff. It is expected to open fall 2014.
The complex borders the Chaska Par 30 golf course and will feature two restaurants, a 150-seat theatre, a library, a heated indoor pool, professional suites for clinical services, and a holistic fitness and wellness center.