Men’s Health Ranks Philly 88th Out of 100 on Best Cities for Exercise List

Do you buy it?

Note: I had to pull up several sources to even begin to understand where Men’s Health got its data for its Best Cities for Exercise list, which ranks 100 U.S. cities according to how “contagious” their fitness culture is. Bear with me on this one: The list came from a comment made by Jeffrey Hallam, a Ph.D. and founder of the University of Mississippi Center for Health Behavior Research, who said that a region’s overall “attitude” toward health and fitness could have an impact on an individual’s attitude toward those things. In other words, if people around you are prioritizing exercise, there’s a good chance you will, too.

“In Portland, Oregon, many people bicycle or walk everywhere, and there is a social expectation that others should bike or walk,” Hallam said. “But in Mississippi, that expectation to be physically active isn’t as strong.”

So, as best as I can deduce, the magazine set about creating a list of exercise-contagious (and laziness-contagious) cities by looking at personal habits—i.e. the amount of exercise at home or at the gym, amount of TV watching and video-game playing—as well as CDC data. I have no idea where they’re getting the numbers for the former; Men’s Health doesn’t explain its methodology, but the Huffington Post (sort of) does here.

By these metrics, Philly ranks 88th out of 100 cities, which are graded in descending order from active to least active cities. So, yes, we’re very, very close to the bottom here. The top five most active cities include Portland, Oregon; Boise, Idaho; Salt Lake City, Utah; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and St. Paul, Minnesota. The five least active cities are Birmingham, Alabama; Columbia, South Carolina; Nashville, Tennessee; Charleston, West Virginia; and Jackson, Mississippi.

What do you think? Is this a pile of baloney or do you think there’s some truth to the “exercise contagion factor”? Are you more apt to exercise if you see a lot of people around you doing it? Share in the comments.