BUFFALO, N.Y. — The pandemic changed almost every aspect of our lives and that includes our physical fitness.
Early studies show that last year people exercised less and had unhealthy diets, with an increase in obesity and stress. As things continue to return closer to normal -- many groups are encouraging people to get more active.
On that note, the yearly American Fitness Index is out. The American College of Sports Medicine puts together this report every summer to rank the 100 largest cities in America in terms of individual and community fitness.
It turns out Buffalo is getting better and better. Last year, Buffalo ranked 25th best in the country. For 2021, the Queen City is now 16th best in the country.
Arlington, Virginia once again took the top spot, followed by Minneapolis, Seattle, Denver and Madison, Wisconsin.
This year Buffalo scored much better in terms of the community rankings than personal health, with higher-than-average rates of smoking, obesity, asthma, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Our team took a look at the results for Buffalo in today's 2 On Your Side Town Hall. We asked Michelle Carbery, a senior corporate wellness specialist with Independent Health, to look through the report and tell us why Buffalo is improving on this important list.
She told us, "I think we're known for our chicken wings and really good food and things like that so we don't always associate it with us being super fit, but we also have a huge community of people who are out there walking and running and engaging in biking events and swimming events and things like that. There's been a big uptick in people using our parks, and we just have tons of parks in the area that people can go and take advantage of nature. People have really connected with that, especially i think through COVID, especially when gyms were closed and things like that, people love getting outside and getting physically fit."
Carbery also noted that we're a little below average in getting enough sleep, which she said is crucial to overall health.
"Getting up and moving every day to physically get your body tired, so that when you do hit the pillow you fall into a nice sound sleep," Carbery said. "And also exercise and physical activity, it's a great way to reduce your stress, so if you're going into bed stressed out or anxious, think about what you did throughout the day. Were you very sedentary? Were you online a lot, which I know a lot of us are. If you're not taking time to get up and get away from the screen and get up and get moving, you're going to have a harder time falling asleep, and sleep is so important to our mental, emotional and physical health."