Originally Posted by SlowObstacle
Just a nit: the study wasn't produced by USA Today. They cited it from elsewhere. ...
Define your terms, cite your data. ...
We have already established, multiple times, that the study in question wasn't measuring fitness. By their express words, they were looking for things like baseball diamonds and dog runs as their "data:"
""What Minneapolis has done brilliantly is put their resources where residents can use them effectively to maintain a high level of physical activity," says Walt Thompson, chairman of the advisory board who created the index and a professor of exercise physiology at Georgia State University in Atlanta.
Minneapolis does better than other cities when it comes to the number of baseball diamonds, playgrounds, golf courses and dog parks, he says. [emphasis added]"
I'm sure MSP has some kick-ass dog parks. But, I actually took my dog to a dog run this am...because I was feeling LAZY and didn't want to wake up early enough for a run or bike. It may come as a surprise to the people who created the index in question, but it takes at most 200m of walking to get to most dog runs -- so the owners don't have to walk far -- and then the ritual is for the owners to either stand and talk in small groups, or to sit by themselves. The humans don't get much more exercise than they do sitting on their couch. There may be one or two people who play fetch with their dog, but that's it. To be more blunt, dog run regulars also tend to be heavier than the average person, and heavier than other types of dog people.
Now, in places where fitness is more a way of life for the average person, people do among other things tend to take their dogs hiking, biking and skiing fairly regularly. Some mountain towns can be amusing and, even for me who has a dog, even irritating in terms of how indulgent they are of pets. For purposes of the index in question, though, being a community where people regularly actually walk or hike or ski with their dogs -- and that does not invest heavily in dog runs as a result-- would dock your community's fitness ranking.
For people looking to maintain a fit lifestyle, dogs actually are an interesting thing, in that depending on breed/type dogs can either hamper it or encourage it. But, that is a real-world issue, and not an issue that intellectuals counting dog...parks...need to be concerned with.