Where We Rank: Health and Wellness in Hartford, CT

The American College of Sports Medicine recently published the 2015 American Fitness Index, which they define as a “scientific snapshot of the state of health and fitness at the metropolitan level. The AFI data report measures the 50 most populous metropolitan areas in the United States and provides a score and ranking reflecting a composite of preventive health behaviors, levels of chronic disease conditions, health care access, and community resources and policies that support physical activity.”

In case you haven’t seen it, I thought I’d share a few interesting statistics about the state of health and wellness in Hartford, Connecticut. One caveat: In the report, Hartford, CT, is defined as the Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford metropolitan areas. For those of you familiar with the area, you know that Hartford and West Hartford have some major demographic and socioeconomic differences, with East Hartford falling somewhere in the middle. So interpret these data accordingly:

Hartford, CT Total Score = 64.8; Rank = 11/50

Areas of Excellence (at or better than target goal):

  • Lower death rate for cardiovascular disease
  • Lower death rate for diabetes
  • Higher percent of city land area as parkland
  • More farmers’ markets per capita
  • Higher Walk Score
  • More ball diamonds per capita
  • More golf courses per capita
  • More park units per capita
  • More recreation centers per capita
  • More swimming pools per capita
  • More tennis courts per capita
  • Higher level of state requirement for Physical Education classes

Improvement Priority Areas (worse than 20% of target goal):

  • Higher percent obese
  • Higher percent with asthma
  • Higher percent with angina or coronary heart disease
  • Higher percent with diabetes
  • Lower percent using public transportation to work
  • Fewer dog parks per capita
  • Lower park-related expenditures per capita

Top four improvements since 2009:

  • The number of farmers’ markets per 1,000,000 increased from 23.5 to 46.2
  •  The number of recreation centers per 20,000 increased from 1.0 to 1.8
  •  The number of acres of parkland per 1,000 increased from 12.2 to 18.2
  •  The percent of city land area that is parkland increased from 13.7% to 20.4%

In general, while there were promising improvements in community and environmental indicators such as parks and recreation, personal health indicators were less promising. For example, from 2009-2013 in Hartford, there was a 35% increase in diabetes, a 26% increase in obesity, a 29% increase in smoking, a 10% decrease in adults reporting engagement in physical activity in the last 30 days, and a 13% decrease in adults declaring their health to be “excellent” or “very good.”  Even more troubling was the 40% decrease in primary care providers/100,000 people.  This quick snapshot suggests that as a community, Hartford is improving the infrastructure and access necessary to support health and wellness. But, we aren’t keeping pace with investment in our PEOPLE.  Public health programs, access to necessary healthcare services, and incentives to improve diet and physical activity are really necessary to move the need on well-being.

Graphic taken from


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