American Fitness Index Measures More Than Health

May 16, 2017

The American College of Sports Medicine in Indianapolis released its annual American Fitness Index this week. The index was first created 10 years ago when it was the first report to combine personal and community factors into a health score, having that environment included has changed the conversation.

For the past three years Indianapolis has ranked 50th – dead last – on the American Fitness Index, or AFI. This year, the city improved to 48th.

AFI advisory board chairman Walt Thompson says measures like public transportation, food markets and park expenditures play into the rankings.

“Indianapolis spends $33,” says Thompson. “If you want to compare that the average expenditure on parks is $110.”

The index involves a city’s metropolitan area. So other Hoosier communities in the report include Chicagoland at 15th and Cincinnati at 22nd.

Health By Design executive director Kim Irwin says reports like AFI highlight the importance of investing in community design for health outcomes.

“We can tell people and teach people all day every day about eating well and moving more, but if they don’t have the environment to do that, it’s not easy to do,” Irwin says.

The Louisville area, which includes parts of Indiana, dropped to the bottom spot. That decline is attributed to poorer personal health indicators like smoking and obesity.

Thompson says Indianapolis still has a way to go when considering these personal health indicators.

“In Indianapolis, almost 10 percent of the population has diabetes,” says Thompson.