Originally Posted by CTKook
Originally Posted by SlowObstacle
As one of the people that actually, y'know, LIVES IN the twin cities, gotta say I kind of resent the people on this thread who diss the local level of fitness without knowing squat about it beyond we're in the midwest, it gets cold in the winter, and there are a lot of folks here of northern European extraction. Plus one of the largest Somali communities in the US and (I think) the largest Hmong community, well, anywhere, but I digress. ...
Look, I think it's cool that you can almost always get a Somali cabbie at the airport, and I've gone hunting and fishing with some of the Hmong there. But, unless we are counting minorities as some sort of lliberal minority collection fetish, it ain't got nothing to do with fitness. To be blunt, MSP is a fairly fat set of cities. There is a good triathlon scene there, yes, some good XC skiing, some good distance runners, but Houston also has good runners, and so do some towns in New Mexico that no one would say are fit on average. Worse, a large number of the affluent, fitter population in MSP lives in suburbs, unlike say NYC, which is a liberal town with a lot of skinny, sometimes fit, sometimes bulimic, sometimes addicted professionals and artsy folks who live in Manhattan. Spend time around the U, and there are a lot of fat or skinny but flabby but heavily pierced bike riders trying to emulate 1990's NYC, among other things. There are a lot of bike lanes and paths for a vocal bike community, but it don't make the average resident fit. Sprinting can come in handy to avoid getting mugged at the state fair, but it doesn't mean that many people there run.
Worse yet, the political culture there limits what could be a real good MTB scene, to take one example. So, there are a lot of bike riders, but the MTBing is limited despite lots of good terrain. The best skate spots are private clubs, because MSP tax dollars aren't directed towards what could be a great chain of public skateparks. The best bike parks are well outside MSP, again despite great terrain and the small footprint of a bike park. You have to fly to Wisconsin to get the best nearby MTB, no lie. Tennis? Again, remarkably underserved relative to similar size towns. So, I'm glad that a highly politicized study complimented MSP for all its dog parks and baseball diamonds -- where dog owners stand around...dog parks have zero relationship to fitness -- but if you go to Lund's or to the farmer's market, it's still a fat set of towns, even when you see upper middle class professionals collected to buy groceries.
Boulder, which is in some ways even more liberal, is a fit town, just like SLC and Park City, also liberal towns, are as well.
MSP has good fishing inside the city boundaries, I give you that, in part because the population is so sedentary and doesn't get out much, even to fish, so a lot of the public parks get surprisingly little fishing pressure. So it is doing better than Hartford on that front. If the goal is to talk minority populations as a badge of liberal status, along with the dog parks, MSP also has more Somalis than Hartford, for sure, though I feel compelled to note that not only Hartford has a large minority population, but so do fit places like SLC.
Where did politics get into this? Is there a study out there that says Democrats and Republicans have different responses to a given level of exercise, diet, etc.? Did I claim that red-state/blue-state differences are relevant? I WILL say, and think it's pretty easy to find studies defending, the notion that providing people with places to be outside and active does, in fact, result in more of them being outside and active.
A few more points:
1) Minnesota in general (so, including those suburbs), as well as MSP in particular, are among the HEALTHIEST areas in the country, as measured by lifespan, incidence of various diseases both related to lifestyle and not. Those are objective, peer-reviewed studies, not popularizations. Whatever you or anyone else thinks they're seeing on the street, those are the facts.
2) Population studies and counting the number of elite athletes are measuring very different things. Just getting up off the couch and walking for 30 minutes a day makes a huge difference in "fitness" as a measure of health (BP, HR, insulin response, and so forth). It doesn't make you an ultra-runner or a triathlete, no. If that's what you want to measure, you need a different methodology.
3) Military personnel and (probably) their families tend to be much fitter than the general population. From the ones I know, that's party culture, partly training, and partly the annual fitness test they have to pass to stay IN the military. Again, I don't recall saying that conservative political views (which, despite your implication, aren't universally held among military folks, either) were correlated with (lack of) fitness, either.
4) If the locals would rather have hockey rinks, ice skating on lakes, bike and walking/running paths around or along every significant body of water, golf courses, tennis courts, climbing walls, huge numbers of soccer fields, swimming pools, et very cetera but don't have enough MTB courses for you, that doesn't seem particularly relevant to how fit people are or aren't. Possibly to how fit you'd be if you lived here, if that meant you couldn't indulge in your favorite activity, I suppose. And BTW, there ARE MTB areas, including some fairly technical ones, with hops, seesaws, staircases, etc.
And, FINALLY getting back more-or-less to the original issue raised in this thread, do you really think that the vast majority of skiers out there qualify as elite athletes??? There are a lot of skiers in the Twin Cities, both locally and taking trips up north, and out to CO, MT, CA, and the Canadian Rockies. So, yeah, there's at least a correlation.