Pump you up, Charlotte!
Baked into Charlotte’s DNA there is an insatiable desire to strive forward. To be better. To puff out our chests and proclaim our pre-eminence as the jewel of the New South (sorry Atlanta).
So what happened when the American Fitness Index (AFI) ranked us 36th out of 50 US metropolitan areas for our overall fitness back in 2013?
We went to work!
Launched through the leadership of Michael Tarwater during his just completed term as Chair of the Charlotte Chamber, the Healthy Charlotte Council established a vision and a work plan to move Charlotte up the list of fittest cities.
AFI measures the 50 largest metros in the US and ranks them on a variety of health measures, including traditional population metrics like access to health care and prevalence of chronic diseases, but also on a number of less common measures, like the number of swimming pools, tennis courts, ball diamonds, and dog parks.
AFI number crunchers sift through comparative data for each city, and then rank these metros, noting areas of strength and opportunities for improvement.
Early on, Healthy Charlotte made a wise decision to make this effort a true community-wide endeavor. As the executive director of a community health organization and overall health advocate, I felt that this was a wise choice and knew Care Ring would have an active role.
Rather than house the effort as a stand-alone entity, the Chamber recruited senior leadership from Novant Health, OrthoCarolina, and Carolinas Healthcare System to join with leaders from the city and county, private industry, and top leaders at institutes of higher education.
Healthy Charlotte is making a bold bet that through this unified effort Charlotte will move into AFI’s top ten of America’s fittest cities within the next five years. Work groups centered on healthy living topics – including improving nutrition, increasing physical activity, and reducing the number of smokers (#charlottequits) – are already in full gear.
For 2014, AFI ranked Charlotte 27th, so we are moving in the right direction, though still far from the top tier.
So, who’s the fittest city of them all? Last year, the winner was Washington, DC (don’t look behind you DC…we are coming for you!).
Join the Healthy Charlotte movement and help us climb the ladder and become one of America’s fittest cities. For more information on the Healthy Charlotte Movement, visit www.healthycharlottecouncil.com.