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REALITY CHECK; America’s fittest city? Well, maybe not

We’re fit! We’re fat! We’re kind of sweaty.


It’s hard to say where San Diego stands when you read the myriad rankings that stack us up against other cities. Case in point: Men’s Fitness picked San Diego as No. 9 on its fittest list in 2005. For the last two years, the same magazine put us at No. 21 — on its fattest list.

Yikes! That’s quite a weight gain. Had you noticed San Diegans increasing their collective girth? Neither did Sperling’s Best Places (bestplaces.net) and Tahitian Noni International sports drinks, which joined forces for the most energetic city list and ranked San Diego No. 2, noting our proliferation of outdoor stores and bike shops. Self Magazine’s 2007 survey of the healthiest places for women put San Diego at No. 17.

Why the discrepancies? Each of these surveys uses different methodology and criteria. Sometimes they are journalistic efforts; other times they’re commercial ventures.

"There’s such a wide variance in results," said Kathie Davis, executive director of locally based IDEA Health & Fitness Association. "It’s hard to make sense of it all."

It certainly is. Cooking Light’s assessment of the 20 major metropolitan areas that fit its philosophy to "eat smart, be fit, and live well" left San Diego out entirely.

"I would think it’s probably a misprint," Davis speculated, with a laugh.
"Obviously, they forgot us!"

Money Magazine forgot us in its list of top 25 skinniest cities, as did Forbes on its American drunkest cities — oh, wait — that’s a good thing.

We were No. 3 on shuteye.com’s best cities for sleep and came in at No. 23 on babyfit.com’s top cities for healthy pregnancies.

San Diego made No. 7 on two lists of best walking cities, from Prevention and the American Podiatric Medical Association. And, in case you’re worried about unsightly perspiration from all that exercise, Old Spice puts us fairly low — No. 69 — on its sweatiest cities list. That isn’t too rank.

And is the city of San Diego any healthier than the county as a whole?

"I don’t see any difference between the county and city," said Davis, whose organization represents 21,000 members in 85 countries. "When you look at Pilates, Gyrotonics, yoga, personal training, you see programs all over the county."

Davis informally ranks the San Diego region high when it comes to physical well-being. She calls it a leading hot spot for fitness leadership, pointing to many award-winning fitness innovators who are based here. But she can also simply point out the window.

"Because of the weather in San Diego, we can exercise all year long, which is a huge advantage. We can bike, hike, play outdoors sports and go to boot camps and outdoor classes. Run, walk, you name it," Davis said. "And we take advantage of those opportunities. When I go to the beach on the weekend — let’s say Torrey Pines — it’s packed — or Mission Bay — packed. People here are working out all over the place."

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