The American College for Sports Medicine (ACSM) has released the results of the annual American Fitness Index which ranks the fifty biggest metropolitan areas in the country. For the third year in a row, the Washington DC/ Arlington/ Alexandria Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is the fittest city in the United States. The ACSM uses MSA’s rather than cities because they encompass a larger area. The fittest cities are ranked based on personal health and community and environmental factors. Areas of strength and opportunity are also noted. The top cities have more resources and better promote a healthy lifestyle compared to lower ranked cities.
The nation’s capital is still the fittest city in the United States. A low percentage of the population smokes and the area has a lower than average death rate from diabetes and cardiovascular disease (Average refers to the average 2014 values from the AFI). The city has very few improvement priority areas. More people suffer from asthma and diabetes and a low percentage of people meet the CDC guidelines for aerobic activity. The strengths outweigh the downfalls, though. Many people take advantage of public transportation or walk or bike to work. The city also has more farmers markets, parks, swimming pools and tennis courts per capita than the average city.
Minneapolis/ St Paul
The twin cities were so close taking the title from DC but ultimately take second place. The cities both boast more golf courses, recreation centers, parks, and baseball diamonds than average. The ACSM listed the low percentage of people eating three or more vegetables a day as an area to work on.
The mile high city is famous for being one of the first states to legalize marijuana and is the third fittest city in the states. This city of over two million has a low rate of obesity and a low death rate for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. What really makes Denver a top city is the number of people riding bikes or walking to work. The area also has more tennis courts, dog parks, baseball diamonds and golf courses per capita on average. Denver also has high state requirements of Physical Education courses. However, the city does have fewer acres of parkland per capita than average.
The Pacific Northwest is quickly becoming a popular place for people who care about the environment and prioritize a healthy lifestyle. Unsurprisingly, the coastal city is the fourth fittest in the nation. A large percentage of the population uses public transportation or a bicycle to commute. Portland also has more acres of parkland and more farmers markets per capita than the average city.
Of the six MSA’s in California, San Francisco comes out on top. Although the city could improve the number of parks, pools and recreation centers per capita, it still ranks fifth in the country. San Francisco has some strengths other top cities don’t have. A high percentage of people eat more than three or more vegetables a day. Also, a low percentage of the population smokes.
If you’re looking for a new place to hang your hat or just looking for a vacation spot these five places will fit all your fitness needs. Motivation to be your healthiest self is everywhere in these cities.