The good news is that the American people are becoming more and more aware of the importance of leading an active and healthy lifestyle. The bad news is that in some parts of the country, this positive trend is not as comprehensive and noticeable as it is in others.
The people from the American College of Sports Medicine have just released their newest American Fitness Index, arguably the most extensive yearly research on the different metro areas in the United States and how well they do fitness.
Unlike many similar “studies” and “research” that use very limited sets of data and very easily jump to conclusions, the ACSM AFI program is a truly extensive research which utilizes data obtained only from the most reputable sources. Moreover, they use scientific methodologies that give no room to biased interpretations or less than perfectly objective results.
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The importance of using Metropolitan Statistical Areas instead of cities should also be pointed out, due to the more complete and insightful results that are obtained by doing so. The AFI includes results pertaining to the 50 largest MSAs in the country.
Before we start investigating metro areas that did the best this year, we should point out that the majority of them have improved their results when compared to previous years’ indexes, which is a clear sign that the majority of the American urban population is living healthier than previously.
According to the ACSM American Fitness Index, Washington D.C. (Washington-Arlington-Alexandria MSA) retains its spot as the fittest city in the country with the overall score of 77.9. More precisely, it came in second in the Personal Health rank with the score of 81.7 and third in the Community Health Rank with a score of 74.2.
The country’s capital was extremely good when it came to the percentage of residents (80 percent) who had done some physical activity in the period of 30 days before the study. Washington also reported very low smoking numbers, with only 12.6 percent of residents smoking. The cardiovascular disease death rates are also lower in Washington than in the majority of the country. The city also benefits from farmer’s markets, public parks and other recreational facilities.
In spot #2, we find Minneapolis, MN (Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MSA) with the total score of 76.2. Minneapolis scored 75.3 in Personal Health, ranking the city as 4th in Personal Health Rankings. It also landed second spot in community Health Ranking with a score of 78.
Almost 59 percent of Minneapolis residents are in excellent or very good health, with only 25 percent of the population being obese and less than 15 percent smoking. With the cardiovascular disease death rate of only 116.3 per 100,000 residents, the City of Lakes is one of the cardio-healthiest cities in the country. Things are even better when we look at Minneapolis’ communal health factors, such as availability of parks, city’s Walk Score and other amenities that are readily available to city’s residents.
Denver, CO (Denver-Aurora-Lakewood MSA) found its way to third place with the total score of 72.6. It actually topped the Personal Health Rank with a score of 82.7 while it made it to “only” #8 in the Community Health Rankings with the score of 62.8.
One of the areas where Denver fares the best is the obesity percentage that is way below national average, at only 20.8 percent. This is actually better than the Target Goals as proposed by the ACSM. The city is also famous for the low percentage of residents with respiratory conditions, as well as cardiovascular ones. The Mile High City does not feature as many recreational centers and swimming pools as you would expect from a city with such a healthy population and it could also use a few more parks.
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Two more metro areas that made it to Top 5 are Portland, OR (Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro MSA) with the total score of 69.6 and San Francisco, CA (San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward MSA) with the total score of 69.3.
Five metro areas that made it to Top 10 include Seattle, WA (Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue MSA) at #6,Boston, MA (Boston-Cambridge-Newton MSA) at #7, Salt Lake City, UT at #8, Hartford, CT (Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford MSA) at #9 and San Diego, CA (San Diego-Carlsbad MSA) at #10.