How Fit Is Your City?
According to a new report, Washington, D.C. ranks first. See where your city ranks for outdoor exercise options, healthy choices and low obesity rates
It may be time to dust off your gym membership if you don’t live in one of the cities identified in a new report as the fittest cities in America.
The American College of Sports Medicine and the Anthem Foundation released their eighth annual American Fitness Index (AFI) rankings. This year, Washington, D.C. takes the top spot as the fitness capital of the United States, followed by Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, and San Diego, California. Indianapolis, Indiana, and Memphis, Tennessee, round up the least fit cities in the country.
Cities were ranked by the availability of outdoor exercise options and rates of obesity, diabetes and smoking.
Washington, D.C. residents seem to take advantage of their city's high Walk Score, an indication of how walkable a city is. Many ride their bikes instead of driving, take public transportation to work and visit parks around the city. The city's growing number of farmer's markets may contribute to the above-average rates of fruit and vegetable consumption. Low rates of smoking and obesity also helped the nation's capital grab the top score.
Check out the complete report to see where your city ranked.
Despite the good news on some cities, the country as a whole saw a drop in active lifestyles and healthy eating. The diabetes death rate bumped up 7.8 percent, and fruit intake fell, like Isaac Newton’s apple, 5.5 percent. The bottom line: We can do better when it comes to keeping fit and maintaining, well, our bottom lines.
"The AFI is two things: a measure of how healthy a metro area is today, and a call-to-action for urban and suburban leaders to design infrastructures that promote active lifestyles and lead to positive health outcomes," Walter Thompson, chair of the AFI advisory board, said in an ACSM news release. "Our goal is to provide communities and residents with resources that help them assess, respond and achieve a better, healthier life."
Even if your city doesn’t boast lots of parks, walking trails and bike lanes, it’s easy enough to add more physical activity to your daily life. Adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week and muscle-strengthening exercises at least twice a week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Break it up into 10-minute chunks during the day if you need to. Even taking the stairs instead of the elevator and parking further from the entrance to the store or your office will make a difference, health experts say.
Leading an active lifestyle can help you maintain a healthy weight, lower high blood pressure and manage chronic illnesses and depression, according to the CDC. Actively playing with your kids, going on brisk walks, swimming laps, hiking, and biking are a few easy, fun options to build into your week.