Community Fitness Levels Could Hurt Home Sellers
By S.E. Slack
Many homebuyers consider key items like school quality, commute times, the best places for business and real estate resale values when considering a purchase. Researchers at the American College of Sports Medicine want them to keep another measure in mind: Fitness.
That doesn’t bode well for local home sellers. Residents of the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro area are not very fit, according to the annual American Fitness Index produced by the American College of Sports Medicine. The area ranked 40th in the top 50 metro areas measured across the nation.
The Index is based on a number of health behaviors including smoking, exercise, obesity rates, chronic health problems and access to health care. It also looks at the environment including availability of items such as parks, recreational facilities, walking trails and farmers' markets. Communities with the highest AFI scores are considered to have strong community fitness, similar to the concept of individuals having strong personal fitness.
The target goals for the personal health indicators were derived by generating the 90th percentile from the pooled 2008-2012 AFI data. The target goals for the community health indicators were derived by calculating the average from the pooled 2008-2012 AFI data. Data indicators with values equal to or better than the target goal were considered “Areas of Excellence.” Data indicators with values worse than 20 percent of the target goal were listed as “Improvement Priority Areas.”
The AFI report noted 15 improvement priority areas locally. For example, a much higher percentage of area residents are smokers, obese and typically lower in physical health than residents of other cities surveyed. City lands marked as parkland are less than those offered by other large metro areas. That means residents, already less healthy than in other metro areas, have fewer community opportunities to get active.
Walter Thompson, chair of the AFI Advisory Board, said that as cities attract new residents, more attention must be paid to create healthy environments, fund amenities and form policies that encourage active and healthy lifestyles.