Health

New Report Names the 10 Fittest Cities in America

May 19th 2016

By:
Almie Rose

How important are health and fitness to you?

If your answer to that question is, "Ew" then you may not want to live in one of the following 10 cities.

American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) released their "Health and Community Fitness Status of the 50 Largest Metropolitan Areas" for 2016. They rate major cities in the U.S. by fittest or healthiest. They determine this by taking into account both community fitness and personal fitness as well as physical health, meaning that factors other than fitness, such as obesity and smoking rates, are also evaluated. The city is then given a score, and the higher the number, the better the score.

Basically, "cities that ranked near the top of the index have more strengths and resources that support healthy living and fewer challenges that hinder it," the ACSM report states.

Does your city make the top 10?

Let's find out.

10. San Diego, California

Total score = 64.1​

Areas of Excellence (at or better than target goal): San Diego took the number 10 spot for a few reasons. They have more farmers' markets per capita, a higher number of people who walk or bike to work, a lower number of smokers, a lower death rate for cardiovascular disease, a higher percent of meeting the CDC aerobic activity guidelines, and, adorably, a higher number of people who eat more than two servings of fruits and more than three servings of vegetables per day.

Improvement Priority Areas (worse than 20 percent of target goal): San Diego could use more people who take public transportation to work. They also have a higher number of people with diabetes, and a higher percent of days when mental and physical health was "not good during the past 30 days." Finally, they have fewer swimming pools, tennis courts, and golf courses per capita.

9. Hartford, Connecticut

Hartford, Connecticut

Total score = 65.3

Areas of Excellence (at or better than target goal): Hartford boasts a lower death rate for both cardiovascular disease and diabetes; more of the city is parkland, more farmers' markets per capita, and more swimming pools, golf courses, tennis courts, and park units per capita. They also have a higher number of people who bike or walk to work and a higher level of state requirement for physical education classes.

Improvement Priority Areas (worse than 20 percent of target goal): They may have a lower death rate of diabetes, but they also have a higher number of people with diabetes. They also have higher percent of obese people, higher percent with asthma, higher percent of days when mental health was "not good during the past 30 days," and fewer dog parks per capita.

8. Salt Lake City, Utah

Total score = 65.5

Areas of Excellence (at or better than target goal): In Salt Lake City, people there are less likely to smoke and more likely to walk or bike to work,and as the report notes, the city boasts a lower percent with angina or coronary heart disease and also cardiovascular disease, and more park playgrounds, dog parks, ball diamonds, golf courses, and tennis courts per capita.

Improvement Priority Areas (worse than 20 percent of target goal): There is a higher percentage of obese people, a higher number of people with asthma, a higher death rate for diabetes, a higher percent of days with poor mental health during the past 30 days, and fewer farmers' markets, rec centers, and swimming pools per capita.

7. Boston, Massachusetts

Total score = 67.0

Areas of Excellence (at or better than target goal):Boston actually has a lot going for it. The report indicates that less people currently smoking here and people have lower death rates for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. There are more farmers' markets per capita, a higher percentage of people use either public transportation or walking/bicycling to get to work, a higher walk score, and a higher percentage of the population has within a 10-minute walk to a park.

Improvement Priority Areas (worse than 20 percent of target goal): Fewer swimming pools per capita (yeah, no surprise), higher percentage of people with asthma, a higher percent of days when mental health was poor during the past 30 days, a higher number of people with angina or coronary heart disease, and a higher percent of those with diabetes.

6. Seattle, Washington

Total score = 69.0

Areas of Excellence (at or better than target goal): Dr. Frasier Crane would be proud. Seattle has lots of bonuses: People who live there have a higher percentage of physical activity/exercise in the last 30 days, a lower death rate for cardiovascular disease, and more farmers' markets per capita. Additionally, a higher number of residents use public transportation or walk/bike to work, and a higher percentage of the population has a 10-minute walk to a park. It's a pedestrian-friendly city that has more playgrounds, dog parks, tennis courts, and park-related expenditures per capita.

Improvement Priority Areas (worse than 20 percent of target goal): People living here have a higher percent of days when physical and mental health (caller, I'm listening), was not good (in the past 30 days), more people living with asthma, diabetes, a higher death rate for diabetes, and fewer swimming pools and acres of parkland per capita.

5. San Francisco, California

Total score = 69.3

Areas of Excellence (at or better than target goal): San Francisco boasts a population that has a high percentage of residents consuming more than three vegetables per day, maybe because they also have more farmers’ markets per capita. A lower percentage of current smokers, lower death rates for cardiovascular disease and diabetes, higher percentage of people using public transportation and/or walking/bicycling to work, a higher walk score, a higher percent of population within a 10-minute walk to a park, more dog parks per capita, and higher park-related expenditures per capita are some more reasons why San Francisco places fifth.

Improvement Priority Areas (worse than 20 percent of target goal): There's a higher percentage of people with asthma and a higher percentage with diabetes. There are also fewer acres of parkland per capita, and fewer ball diamonds, park units, rec centers, swimming pools, and playgrounds.

4. Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon Skyline Sunset

Total score = 69.6

Areas of Excellence (at or better than target goal): It's hard to resist posting many "Portlandia" GIFs, because the show is so dead-on in accurately portraying the healthy aspects of the city of Portland.

Some examples of what Portland is nailing: Higher percent of any physical activity or exercise in the last 30 days, higher percent meeting CDC aerobic activity guidelines, lower death rate for cardiovascular disease, more farmers’ markets per capita, higher number of people using public transportation or walking/bicycling to work, more of the population lives within a 10-minute walk to a park, and more ball diamonds, dog parks, park units, tennis courts, and park-related expenditures per capita.

Improvement Priority Areas (worse than 20 percent of target goal): Portland has a higher percent of days when physical and also mental health was not good during the past 30 days, a higher percentage of people with asthma, a higher percentage of people with angina or coronary heart disease, a higher percentage of those with diabetes (as well as a higher death rate for diabetes), and finally, fewer rec centers and swimming pools per capita.

3. Denver, Colorado

Sunrise Over Denver, Colorado

Total score = 72.6

Areas of Excellence (at or better than target goal): Nothing we haven't seen yet. Denver shows a higher percentage of any physical activity or exercise in the last 30 days, a lower percent obesity rate, and a lower death rate for cardiovascular disease and also for diabetes. Within the city, there are more farmers’ markets per capita, while a higher percentage of residents use public transportation or walk/bike to work. Finally, Denver has more ball diamonds, dog parks, playgrounds, golf courses, park unites, swimming pools, and tennis courts per capita.

Improvement Priority Areas (worse than 20 percent of target goal): It's actually not a long list. A higher percent of the population suffers from asthma, a lower percent of city land area as parkland, and fewer acres of parkland per capita are the areas where Denver is lacking.

2. Minneapolis, Minnesota

Purple Lowry Avenue Bridge, Minneapolis - RIP Prince

Total score = 76.7

Areas of Excellence (at or better than target goal): Minnesota nice, indeed. These are just some areas where the city is excelling: lower death rates for cardiovascular disease and for diabetes, more of the city is made up of parks, more farmers’ markets per capita, higher percentage of residents using public transportation or walking/bicycling to work, higher percent of population lives within a 10-minute walk to a park, higher level of state requirement for physical education classes, and more ball diamonds, dog parks, playgrounds, golf courses, park units, rec centers, and tennis courts per capita.

Improvement Priority Areas (worse than 20 percent of target goal): Y'all need to eat your veggies. Minneapolis has a lower percentage of people consuming more than three vegetables per day. A higher percentage of residents with asthma and a higher percentage with diabetes, along with fewer acres of parkland per capita and fewer swimming pools per capita, are also problem areas.

1. Washington, D.C.

D.C. is number one on this list for the third year in a row.

Total score = 77.9

Areas of Excellence (at or better than target goal): Despite what Frank and Claire Underwood do, D.C. has a lower percentage of people currently smoking. Also, they have a lower percentage of days when mental health was not good during the past 30 days. Other pluses: lower death rates for cardiovascular disease and for diabetes as well, a higher percent of city land area as parkland, more farmers’ markets per capita, a higher percentage of residents using public transportation or walking/bicycling to work, a higher percent of population within a 10-minute walk to a park, higher park-related expenditures per capita, and more dog parks, rec centers, swimming pools, and tennis courts per capita.

Improvement Priority Areas (worse than 20 percent of target goal): Aerobics are not popular in D.C., with a lower percent meeting CDC aerobic activity guidelines. Other weak areas? A higher percent of the population has asthma, same for diabetes. There are fewer acres of parkland per capita and fewer golf courses per capita (which is apparently a bad thing). But here's actual proof of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden getting some physical activity:

Fantastic!

Some notable cities that didn't make the top 10:

New York, New York (#22), Los Angeles (#29), Philadelphia (#24), Miami (#32), Austin (#15.5), and New Orleans (#33) all failed to crack the top 10. Better luck next year!

[H/T Huffington Post]