Thursday, May 30, 2013

How Fit Is Your City?

The American Fitness Index yesterday released its annual report of the healthiest & fittest cities in the country. This third consecutive report lists the top 50 most populated metropolitan areas in the United States and then ranks them from most to least fit in the country. “Fitness” is based on personal factors like smoking, exercise, obesity rates, chronic health problems, and health care access. Other factors that figure in include parks and recreational facilities, walking trails, farmers’ markets, and more.

Elements of fitness.
Elements of fitness.
Image: Shutterstock
Do you live in a city (most of us do)? If it’s one of the top 50 most populated, check out where you fit in. It’s interesting to see which cities tend to have more health-focused people and available facilities! Here’s the list, provided by The American Fitness Index:

1. Minneapolis-St. Paul
2. Washington, D.C.
3. Portland, Ore.
4. San Francisco
5. Denver
6. Boston
7. Sacramento
8. Seattle (YAY Seattle! Good job!)
9. Hartford, Conn.
10. San Jose
11. Austin
12. Salt Lake City
13. Cincinnati
14. San Diego
15. Raleigh, N.C.
16. Pittsburgh
17. Baltimore
18. Virginia Beach
19. Cleveland
20. Richmond, Va.
21. Atlanta
22. Providence
23. Buffalo
24. New York City
25. Philadelphia
26. Milwaukee
27. Chicago
28. Kansas City, Mo.
29. Los Angeles
30. Columbus, Ohio
31. St. Louis
32. Nashville
33. Phoenix
34. Orlando
35. Riverside, Calif.
36. Charlotte
37. Jacksonville
38. New Orleans
39. Las Vegas
40. Tampa
41. Birmingham, Ala.
42. Miami
43. Houston
44. Dallas
45. Indianapolis
46. Memphis
47. Louisville
48. San Antonio
49. Detroit
50. Oklahoma City

Here's the list in map form (also from AFI):

Walt Thompson is a professor of exercise and physiology at Georgia State University and creator of the index. He praised Minneapolis, saying, “What Minneapolis has done brilliantly is put their resources where residents can use them effectively to maintain a high level of physical activity.”

“We really believe that if people don’t have the environment to exercise, they probably won’t,” he added.

Minneapolis spent about $227 per capita on parks, which is about double that of some cities on the list. It also had lower rates of smoking and death from heart disease. Thompson recommends that less fit cities take simple steps to improve overall city health, like implementing smoking bans in public places and requiring P.E. for kids throughout high school.