The 5 Fittest Cities in the United States: 2015

A female runner by the empty reflecting pool by the Lincoln Memorial
Dan Chung/Aurora/Getty Images

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has released it eighth annual American Fitness Index® (AFI), ranking the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the United States in terms of “fitness,” as defined by a variety of exercise options and low rates of smoking, obesity, and diabetes. The following five cities ranked highest on the 2015 list:

1. Washington, DC

For the second year in a row, the nation’s capital tops the list of fittest cities.

For AFI purposes, this includes the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria metro area, which received the highest score on the list, 79.6.

According to the AFI report, 73% of DC-area residents engaged in physical activity or exercise over the prior 30 days (although only 24% are meeting aerobic activity guidelines as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

Residents of the nation’s capital were also more likely to consume more servings of fruits and veggies, and they were less likely to be current smokers. They were more likely to use public transportation to get to work—a factor that has been shown to reduce body mass index (BMI) and obesity.

The AFI noted several encouraging trends in the District of Columbia metro area since 2009, including an increase in the number of dog parks and farmers’ markets, an increase in the expenditures for parks, and a major decrease in the death rate for diabetes.

2. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN

Barely edging out San Diego (see below), the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area was found to have a low percentage of the population with chronic health problems, such as asthma, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, and a lower-than-average rate of obesity.

3. San Diego-Carlsbad, CA

The San Diego area was a very close third behind Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington. In San Diego, the report found that residents had access to a variety of outdoor exercise options, as well as good access farmers’ markets. 75% of the area’s residents live within a 10-minute walk to a park.

4. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA

Fourth on the list was the San Francisco-Oakland area. Nearly a third of the residents in this area are meeting the CDC aerobic activity guidelines, and nearly a quarter are meeting both the CDC aerobic and strength activity guidelines.

In addition to more farmers’ markets, the San Francisco area has seen a decline in the percentage of current smokers and in deaths due to cardiovascular disease.

5. Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, CA

The fifth highest-ranked metropolitan area was also in California, in the Sacramento area, where a quarter of residents meet both CDC aerobic and strength activity guidelines. Nearly 40%  of residents here consume two or more servings of fruit per day, and 22.5% consume three or more vegetables per day.

Sources

The American Fitness Index 2015 Report. Accessed online at http://americanfitnessindex.org/ on May 27, 2015.

Flint E, Cummins S, Sacker A. Associations between active commuting, body fat, and body mass index: population based, cross sectional study in the United Kingdom. BMJ 2014;349:g4887.

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