We know our audience is full of highly motivated, active individuals who prioritize fitness in a major way. This lifestyle attracts others who live similarly, and from the perspective of our running clubs, cycling groups and other active social circles, you might think your city tops the "fittest cities" list.
And you might be right—the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has released its 2021 American Fitness Index summary report (click here to see it for yourself), highlighting 100 of America's fittest cities based on several specific parameters. This isn't simply about how many IRONMAN finishers are in a given area or even the number of people who run more than once a week—it takes into account everything from health issues like cardiovascular disease or diabetes to food insecurity and diet choices, air quality, access to recreational facilities and more.
The goal of the report is to show the correlation of how chronic disease prevention is directly tied to regular physical activity and a supportive environment. This holistic approach isn't just good for its people, "well-designed cities experience increased home values, retail activity and business and job growth, too."
We highlighted some of the most interesting findings from the summary report, from the fittest city in America to other fun facts that might surprise you.
The Top Dog
Drum roll please... The title of "fittest city in America" has yet again been awarded to Arlington, Virginia, for the third consecutive year with a score of 86.1 out of 100.
Its residents are the most active in the United States, with over 85% of people reporting that they've done some kind of physical activity within the last month. They ranked first in "personal health," as well as first in "community and environment," meaning that not only do Arlingtonians prioritize health, but their community has lots of open space, healthy food options, recreational facilities, etc. More specifically, only 3.5% of the population smokes, 66.9% are in "excellent" or "very good health" and only 6.7% of people are faced with food insecurity.
The Top 10
Arlington isn't the only city with residents that deserve a gold star for exercising and eating healthy. The other nine runners up who round out the top 10 on the fitness index include:
- Arlington, Virginia
- Madison, Wisconsin
- Washington, D.C.
- St. Paul, Minnesota
- Irvine, California
- Portland, Oregon
Note: Minneapolis and Denver moved up this year to the No. 2 and No. 4 spots, whereas Seattle slipped to No. 3. Atlanta quietly moved into the No. 10 position this year, mostly due to its high rank on the "Meeting Aerobic & Strength Activity Guidelines" list.
Other Interesting Points
With so much good stuff packed into the report, we can't just leave you with the fittest top 10.
Boston has the highest percentage of residents who bike or walk to work (19.3%), and New York has the highest percentage of residents who use public transportation to get to work (a whopping 55.6%).
Over 41% of residents in Newark, Jew Jersey, consume over two fruits a day, over 20% of San Antonio residents consume at least three servings of vegetables a day and almost 78% of Lubbock, Texas, residents sleep at least seven hours a day.
San Francisco had the lowest obesity rate at 8.6%, and only 4.6% of Plano, Texas, residents suffer from asthma.
St. Paul has the most baseball/softball diamonds per 10,000 residents, Norfolk, Virginia, has the most basketball hoops, Madison has the most park playgrounds and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has the most recreational centers. Cleveland has the most swimming pools per 100,000 residents, and Richmond, Virginia, has the most tennis courts per 10,000 residents. Minneapolis has the highest "bike score," with a score of 83.5 due to its connected bikeway network that encourages residents to cycle throughout the year.
Want to learn more? Click here to see the 2021 American Fitness Index summary report in its entirety.
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