Category Archives: Environment

Twin Cities Fittest in USA

Minneapolis SkylineThe Twin Cities surpassed Washington DC as the fittest city according to the American College of Sports Medicine’s 2011 list of America’s fittest cities. WebMD provided a great summary of the report which included this paragraph:

Even though the Twin Cities reduced park-related expenditures in 2011, the area’s percentage of parkland is still above average, and so is its percentage of recreational facilities other than swimming pools, according to a report from the American College of Sports Medicine, which was made possible by a grant from the Indianapolis-based WellPoint Foundation.

It is no surprise that Portland made the top 5, since Minneapolis and Portland swap the best biking city designation.  And actually none of the top 5 are that surprising.  Here is the list (with their score and 2010 rank):

1. Minneapolis-St. Paul 77.2 3
2. Washington, D.C. 76.8 1
3. Boston, Mass. 69.1 2
4. Portland, Ore. 67.7 5
5. Denver, Colo. 67.6 6

If you want to see a pdf of the Twin Cities data you can click here. Other cities are available at the American Fitness Index website.

Here is a list of the Twin Cities strengths:

  • Lower percent unemployed
  • Higher median household income
  • Lower percentage of households below poverty level
  • Higher percent of any physical activity or exercise in the last 30 days
  • Higher percent physically active at least moderately
  • Lower percent currently smoking
  • Higher percent in excellent or very good health
  • Lower percent with asthma
  • Lower percent with angina or coronary heart disease
  • Lower percent with diabetes
  • Lower death rate for cardiovascular disease
  • Lower death rate for diabetes
  • Higher percent of city land area as parkland
  • More farmers’ markets per capita
  • Higher percent using public transportation to work
  • Higher percent bicycling or walking to work
  • More ball diamonds per capita
  • More dog parks per capita
  • More park playgrounds per capita
  • More golf courses per capita
  • More park units per capita
  • More recreation centers per capita
  • More tennis courts per capita
  • Higher park-related expenditures per capita
  • Higher level of state requirement for Physical  Education classes


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Five Fall Running Tips

We are in the midst of fall and depending on where you live you may have already passed peak leaf viewing season.  But like I recently told someone, even if the all the leaves have fallen, at least the ground will have lots of color! We often hear a lot about tips for running in the heat of summer or the cold of winter, but what are some important things to remember about fall??

Enjoy the scenery – this seems like a no brainer.  Lots of people go out of their way to do leaf viewing, but I would say be sure to take a run somewhere that you can really enjoy the full depth of the fall foliage.

Run somewhere new – this goes with the first one.  If your daily runs are on the roads in an urban or even suburban area, try to find a new place to run. I personally would recommend finding some kind of park where you can run on trails, but get out of your comfort zone and find a new place to enjoy your running.

Check the weather – fall weather can be a little tricky.  One day it can be gorgeous with lots of sun and the next day can be really windy and cold with some flurries (this actually just happened this past weekend).  So make sure you know what the weather is like before you step outside and try to run in the snow only wearing a t-shirt! You don’t want to overdress but you sure don’t want to under dress either.

Watch your step – another pretty commonsensical idea but important to stress.  No matter where you run this time of year there are going to be a lot of leaves on the ground.  And while they can be quite enjoyable to look at they are a potential hazard to our beloved ankles.  Even in the urban jungle, leaves can cover up holes, sticks, or dangerous parts of sidewalks.  Even worse, on the trails leaves can cover up roots, small stumps and a wide variety of other dangers.  So be careful!

Have Fun – last but not least, have some fun out there. Fall is a great time to relax and recharge, especially if you’ve been training hard all summer.  Try to get out and enjoy the crisp fall air and the beauty all around.  Fall is a great time of year so be sure to enjoy it before the snow starts accumulating!

[tags] Fall, Autumn, Running, Tips [/tags]

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The Green Microgym

The Green Microgym image from NY Times

A lot of people talk about changing the environment, ending global warming, and other related issues.  But few people take dramatic action to do anything about it.  We have joined to masses who use the environmentally friendly lightbulbs and I usually ride the bus or ride my bike to work. These are little things but they do add up, eventually!

Running is an interesting sport because at its most basic levels it is quite simple.  Technically we just need a pair of shorts and a shirt to go running (barefoot running is a niche part of the community). Runners have created a large industry around the sport, which isn’t always as environmentally friendly.  A large chunk of our shoes are made of rubber or some other oil derived product, we create large amounts of trash during races and training – which includes plastic bottles. As runners we are also keenly aware of our environment and the direct impact it can have on our running.  Smog especially can play havoc with our lungs.

Companies such as Brooks are begining to create products which have less of a negative affect on the environment.  The BioMoGo is currently in stores and their full line will use this product by the end of next year.  Races such as the Urban Wildland races are starting to think about the impact they have.

Take everything I just talked about and throw it inside a building and you get a gym/fitness center with Personal trainers in Washington DC.  One can only imagine the energy required to run a gym, not to mention the amount of water used, sewage produced, and overall negative impact on the envrionment.  Yet for many runners they are a vital part of the routine – especially in cold weather states like Minnesota.

Enter the Eco-Gym. A newer style gym that relates to the environment in a different way.   Some like the Green Microgym capture the energy output from exercise machines to partially power the facility.  They also use solar panels to generate more of their electricity. Their website lists ways they are trying to be “Green” here are a few examples:

  • Our SportsArt EcoPowr Treadmills use 30% less electricity than others
  • Our solar panels generate an average of 8 Kilowatt Hours per day
  • The Team Dynamo and Spin Bikes can collectively generate up to 350 watts continuous
  • We are working with on ways to capture the excess energy from our elliptical trainers
  • We have double flush toilets
  • The paper towels and toilet seat covers in the bathrooms are made from recycled content
  • Our personal trainers often take their clients outside for workouts
  • We have automated our payment and billing systems to reduce paper usage

As you can tell some are more drastic than others! I imagine most gyms have an automated payment system. The Green Microgym is priced at $49 a month which seems pretty comparable to most places I’ve looked at in the past.

What do you think of this idea? Would you be willing to pay a little more if your gym went eco-friendly?

HT: NY Times

[tags] Environment, Running, Eco-Gym, Green [/tags]

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