Routt County maintains reputation as 1 of healthiest places in Colorado | SteamboatToday.com

Routt County maintains reputation as 1 of healthiest places in Colorado

Steamboat Springs residents Laura Cusenbary and Jennifer Campbell go for a bike ride south of town as the ski slopes on Mount Werner loom behind them. In part because of the abundant access to exercise opportunities here, Routt County is maintaining its ranking as one of the healthiest places in Colorado.

— As they pedaled hard south of town Saturday and passed dozens of other road bikers, Laura Cusenbary and Jennifer Campbell chatted about how challenging it was to live in a place like Steamboat Springs and keep up with its rigorous athletic pace.

It’s this rigorous pace and a slew of other factors that are helping Routt County maintain its reputation as one of the healthiest places in Colorado.

The latest round of health rankings compiled by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation places Routt as the 11th-healthiest county in the second-healthiest state in the nation.

The foundation graded 59 of Colorado’s 64 counties on a range of criteria ranging from the prevalence of adult obesity to the availability of primary care physicians.

With only 6 percent of adults here reporting they are in poor or "fair health," Routt shined in the quality of life category.

And with a low prevalence of adult smoking and obesity and a high level of access to exercise opportunities, Routt also scored high in the health behaviors category.

Charity Neal, the director of public health for the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, said Routt has a lot to like in the latest report.

"The good thing for Routt County is it has consistently remained in the top of the rankings," Neal said. "You can’t ask much more than that."

Neal called the health rankings one of many tools local health providers use to see how the health of a community is trending.

But the rankings also have limitations because they largely use data that is 3 to 4 years old.

"You have to gauge the community on a day-to-day and month-to-month basis rather than just using these rankings," Neal said.

Still, Neal said the ability to look back at the rankings and watch health trends is important, and big changes in the rankings can stand out and inform communities about problems.

In Routt County, many of the trends in the latest report were positive.

The number of people who reported they were physically inactive dropped, as did the number of people who were uninsured.

Holding Routt County back was a physical environment category that evaluated counties on things such as the quality of drinking water, the length of driving commutes and the quality of the air.

Neal said that last year, the category graded counties on a different set of criteria, including the number of fast-food resteraunts in the area and access to recreational facilities.

This time around, Routt County ranked 35th in the physical environment category because of some dings from the scores that take commuting and drinking water violations into account.

Read the full report here.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10