The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has released its annual rankings of America’s fittest cities, and for the second time in a row, Washington D.C. led the pack and as the U.S.’ fittest among 50 states.
It sure helped that the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria metro area thrive with public parks and the people have great access to them. These pose as a major stimulator for everyone in the nation’s capital to exercise. Proof is the huge number of people exercising, walking and jogging even at noon in the nation’s capital, Dr. Walt Thompson, chairman of the American Fitness Index Board, said. The frenzy sometimes gives tourists a difficult time to go around the city because of many people exercising outside, he added.
With the variety of outdoor exercise options, Washington, D.C. residents have relatively low rates of smoking, obesity and diabetes. Completing the list’s top five of fittest cities were Minneapolis-St. Paul, San Diego, the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento. Oklahoma City, Memphis and Indianapolis rank last.
The eighth annual American Fitness Index® (AFI) ranking, Thompson said, is “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.”
The report found a 9.5 percent drop in the number of respondents who said they had been diagnosed with angina or coronary heart disease. It likewise saw a 5.5-percent jump in the number of park units from 2014 to 2015.
But what the report finds troubling is the 11.3-percent decline in the number of individuals who exercised in the last 30 days, the 7.8-percent jump in the death rates triggered by diabetes from 2014 to 2015, as well as the 5.5-percent decline in those who eat enough fruit daily.
Americans are encouraged to exercise for at least 30 minutes and participate in 10 minutes of stretching and light muscle training five days weekly. Specialists strongly advise reducing sedentary time, join walking clubs, incorporate physical activity into the weekday schedule to improve fitness, reduce the risk of chronic disease and enhance quality of life.
To view the metropolitan rankings in the 2015 AFI data report, along with each city’s AFI rationale, click here.