Ranking Minneapolis: Fit or fat?

Studies differ on fitness level of Minneapolis

A runner jogs by Lake Calhoun in Uptown on Monday. Recent studies have shown that Minneapolis has been ranked high on the fitness scale, while others referred to the people of Minneapolis as ‘little houses.’

Ashley Goetz

A runner jogs by Lake Calhoun in Uptown on Monday. Recent studies have shown that Minneapolis has been ranked high on the fitness scale, while others referred to the people of Minneapolis as ‘little houses.’

Opinions vary about the fitness level of Minneapolis. While some, like MenâÄôs Fitness Magazine and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) hail Minneapolis as fit, others, like the editor of Vogue Magazine , find Minneapolis to be on the heavier side. Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour told 60 Minutes on May 17 that the inspiration behind an article about obesity had been a trip to Minnesota. “I can only kindly describe most of the people I saw as little houses,” Wintour said then. Contrary to the opinion of Wintour, both MenâÄôs Fitness Magazine and the ACSM gave Minneapolis a high score in their ratings of most fit cities. According to MenâÄôs FitnessâÄô 2009 âÄúThe Fittest and Fattest Cities in America, âÄù Minneapolis is ranked as the third fittest city, behind only Salt Lake City and Colorado Springs, Colo. The ACSM ranked Minneapolis as the second fittest city in America, giving Washington, D.C. the number one spot. Opinions vary among Minnesota natives as well. Bill Hathaway , who has been a Minneapolis resident for 30 years, said he thinks Minneapolis ranks in the middle on the fitness scale. Andra Avalon, Minneapolis, says it depends where you look. She says if you look at downtown Minneapolis one will see bigger people compared to the people at Lake Calhoun . âÄúI feel fat hanging out at the beach because everyone is so skinny,âÄù Avalons said. âÄúIt feels like California.âÄù The University of Minnesota campus may or may not reflect the fitness of the state. According to the 2008 Boynton College Student Health Survey, 46.2 percent of the students who completed the survey were either overweight or obese . However, 61 percent of students meet the Centers for Disease ControlâÄôs recommendations for physical activity, according to BoyntonâÄôs study. The CDC recommends physical activity five days a week, 30 minutes a day, Beth Lewis , an assistant professor in the School of Kinesiology said. Cooke Adams, a dental hygienist graduate student , said she thinks Minneapolis is more fit than her native North Carolina because of access to outdoor recreation areas. Adams said when she moved to Minneapolis a year ago, she could tell it was more of an âÄúoutsideâÄù place compared to North Carolina. âÄúI definitely see a lot more people outside here,âÄù she said. âÄúThe bike paths and the areas for people to exercise, whether it be run, bike or walk, it just seems like thereâÄôs more access to places for people to exercise, so I say fit not fat.âÄù Lewis agrees. âÄúThe last time I checked, [Minneapolis] has the highest per capita for parks in open spaces, so thatâÄôs one of the things I think that always propels Minneapolis,âÄù she said. For some, exercise is the most important part of their lives. Avalon said exercising helps her with her depression. Lewis, who specializes in motivating people to exercise, says exercise is an effective way to deal with depression. âÄúOne of my favorite studies came out two years ago, and it actually compared people who they would randomly assign to either get an anti-depressant, Zoloft , or they would exercise and both of them were equally successful in reducing depression,âÄù Lewis said. Some say that no matter what the weather conditions, the citizens of Minneapolis are still outside. âÄúPeople really get out year round here,âÄù Adams said. Avalon said weather does not stop people from exercising. âÄúIf youâÄôre really a Minnesotan, youâÄôre going to exercise in the winter,âÄù she said.