Mar 312010
Authors: Sara Michael

In hard economic times, wallets aren’t the only things shrinking in Fort Collins. It appears waistbands are too.
Not only the best place to live as awarded by Money Magazine, Fort Collins was also named the least obese metro area in the country earlier this month.

In 2009, Gallup took polls across the country, surveying 353,000 adults in 187 metro areas to find the obesity rates in America. They took into account height and weight, calculating body mass index and healthy habits with eating and exercise.

The Fort Collins / Loveland metro area took the prize for the lowest obesity rates at 16 percent, followed closely by Boulder at 16.6 percent.

The national average weighs in at 25.6 percent.

“A big factor is the nature of the residents,” said Mayor Doug Hutchinson. “The medium age of people in Fort Collins is around 29 years … We have a young, vibrantpopulation.”

More than 4 percent of citizens now commute on bikes –– twice as much as in many other states, Hutchinson said. He also attributes the city’s 50 parks and great trail systems for the unusual amount of wellness.

Despite Fort Collins’ illustrious new reputation, however, CSU is lagging behind in the fitness arena.

“This campus is not as active as you’d think,” said CSU Health Educator Deb Morris. According to data collected by the Hartshorn Health Center and Campus Reccreation, only 47 percent of students said they engage in 20 minutes of vigorous activity three to five times a week.

Students who regularly attend the gym or other physical activity say that they feel good, look better and live healthier, Morris said. She added that many students reported less stress after exercise, and overall, they felt happier.

“It’s important for people to hear that –– (exercise) is positive, not a chore,” Morris said. “We want to get (students) thinking about how they can make this part of their day.”

RamMotion is one program the university created to get students to get their blood pumping. Every Wednesday from noon to 2 p.m., Hartshorn Health Center holds games and other activities on the Lory Student Center Plaza.

“It’s basically recess,” Morris said, laughing. “It’s social and fun.”

“When I work out, I feel great,” said freshman Marc Young, an English major. Young said he goes to the gym as often as he can, at least four days out of the week.

“People don’t come (to the gym) because they’re scared, or they don’t have time … ” he said, adding that with the weather improving, students can make time to work out.

Time is the number one thing people blame their lack of exercise on, Morris said. But it’s not hard to make it a part of everyday activities.

“Why not get a group and walk to Old Town, or bike to the grocery store instead of drive? If you’re going to go out, why not go dancing?”
Ranking third with a 16.9 percent obesity rate is Barnstable, Mass. Colorado Springs pulls in fourth with 17.2 percent and San Luis

Obispo, Calif. came in fifth with 17.6 percent.

Overall, Colorado averages at a 19.6 percent obesity rate.

The most obese area goes to Montgomery, Ala., which has a 34.5 percent obesity rate.

Staff writer Sara Michael can be reached at

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