America’s Fittest (and Fattest) Cities: How Does Yours Rank?

From Yahoo Fitness 5/18/16

Outdoor spaces that allow for running and exercise are key. (Photo: Gallery Stock)

The ninth annual ranking of the most- and least-fit cities — based on the American Fitness Index — has just been released from the American College of Sports Medicine and the Anthem Foundation. And coming in at No. 1 in the fittest category, for the third year running, is Washington, D.C. It was followed by Minneapolis-St. Paul in the No. 2 spot and Denver in No. 3.

The report, which ranked the country’s top 50 metropolitan areas, was based on environmental factors such as access to parks and walking trails, as well as health behaviors. Washington pushed to the top again in part due to the city’s low number of smokers.

Public transportation was also a key factor in the methodology, as residents walk and stand more when using buses and trains to travel, helping with fitness and cardiovascular health.

In general, though, the U.S. has seen a shift toward healthier lifestyles, according to the report: The amount of people smoking is down across the board, for example, and twice as many states now have policies that require physical education in schools.

And now for the bad news.

The least-fit city is Indianapolis, followed by Oklahoma City, which has held the dead-last ranking in years past. Also not faring well: Louisville, Ky.; Nashville and Memphis, Tenn.; and San Antonio and Houston, Texas. The lower-ranking cities are at a disadvantage, the report noted, because they often do not have the same access to parks and public transportation as the fitter cities, and tend to have higher smoking rates.

But don’t give up if your location is deemed unhealthy, Craig Samitt of Anthem urged in a statement, because it’s possible to be fit anywhere. “Modeling healthy behavior by incorporating activity into the weekday schedule and practicing good nutrition can improve fitness,” he noted.

You can read the full report here.

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