Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Lynx Lake, Prescott National Forest, Prescott, Arizona

Lynx Lake, Prescott National Forest, Prescott, Arizona

Prescott, Ariz., joins my list of rich, educated, beautiful, and relatively fit American cities. Privilege has its privileges.

In yesterday’s post, I compared Boulder, Colo., to Flagstaff, Ariz., implying that they both similarly have lean citizens. That was a bit misleading. I don’t have the data to back that up. But I do have some data for nearby Prescott, which like Boulder does have a leaner, wealthier, more-educated population, as well as beautiful surroundings.

Take Lynx Lake for example (pictured above). It’s right in town and offers boating, swimming, and a fairly strenuous 2.3 mile trail around the lake. Other trails lead out from the lake, and still more wander through surrounding Prescott National Forest.

Being in the high desert of the Colorado Plateau, Prescott summers rarely go above the low 90s and cool down at night. Winter highs are usually in the 60s and 70s, though snow does blow in from time to time. Combined with beautiful forests and mountains, it makes for a year round playground. This has attracted wealthy folks, especially retirees, to the area.

According to, 35.7% of Prescott residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher, and the average household income is $41,043. According to Gallup’s “U.S. Community Well-Being Tracking,” only 22.8% of Prescott residents are overweight.

Compare that to the 33.8% of overweight residents in McAllen, Texas, near my hometown. As I said yesterday, McAllen and the Rio Grande Valley cities generally are among the poorest metropolitan areas in the USA. And they aren’t fun places to exercise outdoors.

I hold to my position that more money and education works in concert with access to the beautiful outdoors for a healthier population.

Now, how can this info help all Americans? Would better public gardens and parks, bike trails, and other facilities encourage people to get outdoors more? Would that, combined more equitable wealth distribution and a more well-educated society, result in a healthier, more-active, less-overweight populace? I think so. I wonder if any social scientists have the data to back me up?

The video below, “Park Poor” by KCET Los Angeles, has at least some of that data.

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