America’s Top 10 Fittest Cities

Exactly what are the people of Arlington, VA, doing so well to be named America’s Fittest City in 2020, for the third time in a row?

To be among the Fittest Cities in the American Fitness Index, compiled by the American College of Sports Medicine and the Anthem foundation, its citizens don’t only need to rank high in doing healthy behaviors. The city has to help them out, too, with infrastructure that supports and encourages healthy behaviors—like parks, farmer’s markets, and recreational facilities—as well as good air quality and a low pedestrian fatality rate.

The report ranks 100 cities on 33 different health metrics, and Arlington ranked among the top 10 in 19 of the health indicators. Some of these do reflect individual health behaviors, like the percent of residents meeting the guidelines for aerobic and strength activity and a low rate of adults with obesity, and Arlington ranked #1 in both of those. The metrics also reflect the percent of people who consume three or more vegetables and two or more fruits per day, as well as how people rated their physical and mental health.

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This year, Boston made the top 10 for the first time. And while Buffalo, NY, Toledo, OH, and Anchorage, AL weren’t in the top 10, their rankings improved by at least 15 spots from 2019.

The top ranked cities of 2020:

  1. Arlington, VA
  2. Seattle, WA
  3. Minneapolis, MN
  4. Madison, WI
  5. San Francisco, CA
  6. Washington, DC
  7. Irvine, CA
  8. Denver, CO
  9. Boise, ID
  10. Boston, MA

There were notable improvements across the board in all 100 cities when it came to park proximity: the index saw a 5 percent overall improvement in that metric. That means that more people than last year had a park within a 10-minute walk, and it turns out that the bottom 25 percent of cities this year had the greatest improvement in park access. Other stats that improved since 2019 in all 100 cities: The average rate of residents exercising and a dropping number of residents smoking.

If you think you live in a climate that makes it impossible to bit fit and healthy all year round, that excuse doesn’t hold up. Three cities with weather extremes made it to the top: Minneapolis, Madison, and Denver.

Even with all this Fittest City glory, though, nobody’s perfect. Most people are still falling short of healthy activity and eating guidelines. While more than 75 percent of people in the largest cities said they exercised in the last 30 days, only 22 percent meet both the aerobic and strength activity guidelines. Only 16 percent of people in these cities eat the recommended three or more serving of vegetables daily (check out how our Food and Nutrition editor eats a day’s worth of healthy greens in 14 minutes, and he’s no speed eater) and 33 percent eat the recommended two or more servings of fruit a day.

Want to see how your city ranks? Use the online city comparison tool to check it out. And to improve your own health metrics, find more ways to eat well here, and get new ideas, moves, and routines for meeting aerobic and strength guidelines here.

via America’s Top 10 Fittest Cities