Greensboro ranks near the top… for least active cities

by Jordan Green

A month after Greensboro’s dead-last ranking by Forbes magazine for ‘best cities to be single,’ the Gate City has earned another unflattering appraisal: a grade of ‘F’ on Men’s Health magazine’s September 2005 rankings of the most active to least active cities in the United States.

Greensboro ranked 97th out of 101 cities, just behind Buffalo, NY, but ahead of Pittsburgh, Tampa and St. Petersburg, Fla., and Shreveport, La. Durham, Raleigh and Charlotte ‘— the three other North Carolina cities included in the study ‘— all received a grade of ‘B’, respectively ranking 20th, 21st and 42nd.

The magazine handed out the grades based on crunching data from Claritas and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the number of people who regularly exercise, with stats from Nielsen on the number of households that don’t watch TV and stats from the Federal Highway Administration on the daily miles logged in a car.

Greensboro’s poor showing compared to its North Carolina sisters surprised David Kiss, general manager of the Fitness Today health club.

‘“I don’t see how Durham possibly ranked higher than Greensboro,’” he said. ‘“I guarantee you fitness is not the number-one issue in Durham.’” He added that compared to Charlotte, Greensboro could probably use some more public parks.

For Mayor Keith Holliday, who took the time to escort a female reporter from Forbes magazine around town in July to help correct the notion that Greensboro is a bad city to be single in, the fitness of the Gate City’s citizens is a matter of pride.

He said he just doesn’t buy the idea that Greensboro is the fifth least active city in the country.

‘“Here we are famous for having so many parks and having such a strong parks and recreation department that it really baffles me that short of an August day when the heat is one hundred and five we wouldn’t rank fairly well when it comes to exercise in this city.’”

The congenial mayor conceded that the city’s accommodations for bicyclists could improve, and noted that he supports the Moses Cone-Wesley Long Community Health Foundation’s efforts to curb obesity. But still, he said he sees a lot of exercise going on around town.

‘“With the obvious strong recreation programs here, I’m surprised ‘— even the number of soccer fields, the number of tennis courts, the number of workout gyms and other kinds of fitness center,’” he said. ‘“On any given night you can go by the tennis courts and see the lights on until eleven o’clock.’”

-Jordan Green