Friday, August 27, 2010

San Antonio, Sleepy or Stressful?

Forbes Most Stressful Cities list is out.  Luckily, San Antonio didn't make it into the top ten, but Dallas and Houston did.  Long distance commutes (#10), long working hours (#1), limited health care (#1), limited exercise (#11) and poor physical health (#5) put Houston in the number 3 spot.  Dallas got the #7 spot for similar rankings; long distance commutes (#14), long working hours (#2), limited health care (#4), limited exercise (#2) and poor physical health (#19).

So I was wondering, how did San Antonio stack up?  I have always thought of San Antonio as a fairly low stress place, but I have to admit traffic has changed drastically since I first learned to drive.  Commute distances aren't too bad, in 2003 the average time to work for San Antonians was 22.5 minutes which ranked us in 36th place behind Dallas in 29th place with a 23.6 minute average commute and Houston in 15th place with a 25.8 minute commute.  Now you may ask, so what's the big deal, 3.3 more minutes in traffic.  Well you have to remember that this is the average commute time.  You could have some commutes that are really long added to some short commutes to come up with an average of of 25 minutes.  Look at the map of Texas, see those red blobs?  Those are the metropolitan statistical areas of Houston in the east, Dallas in the north and San Antonio in the center.  You've probably noticed that San Antonio's land mass is a lot smaller.

Distances in the Houston and Dallas areas are a lot longer, and traffic is much heavier.

Not only do San Antonians spend less time in traffic, we also work fewer hours per week, 36.5 hours to be precise (May 2010) compared to 37.1 hour in Dallas and 37.3 hours per week in Houston.

Now I'm thinking that where we are going to look bad is in Health Care, Exercise time and physical health.

Source: San Antonio Express-News
I was kind of surprised to find out that a higher percentage of San Antonio employers offer health insurance (SA 59.8%, which employ 90.2% of San Antonio workers) and that a higher percentage of SA employees are eligible for employer based health insurance than in Houston and Dallas.   The place where San Antonio lags slightly behind Houston is in the percentage of eligible employees that are actually enrolled in insurance programs (76% is SA, 76.2% in Houston.) 

So what about exercise time and physical health?  San Antonians are supposed to be fat and unhealthy right? Well, according to the CDC, more SA adults exercise (25%) than in Dallas (22.6%) and just slightly less than Houston (25.8%).  Who knows, maybe the shame of those fat city ratings got some people moving.  San Antonio is still the fattest city in Texas with 29.5% of adults categorized as obese, but surprisingly we have a lower percentage of diabetics (7.5% of adults compared to 8.3% in Dallas and 7.8% in Houston.)  We're in the middle when it comes to smoking, 14% of SA adults smoke compared to Dallas with 16.3% and Houston with 11.5% smokers.  But what's really interesting about San Antonio's health statistics is how we stack up against the nationwide statistics.  The median figures (which is a more accurate measure than averages because it's a picture of where the largest number of people fall instead of only taking the extremes into account) for the US are 23.8% of adults exercise, 26.9% are obese, 17.9% smoke and 8.3% are diabetic.  So San Antonio, we aren't so bad off after all.  Keep up the good work, maybe we'll get off that notorious obesity list!

It's nice to know we live in a big city with a realitively low amount of stress!

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