The Most — and Least — Healthy Cities in the Nation

A few cities stand out for both fitness levels and park amenities. Is your city “ripped” or flabby?

The nation’s capital is on a roll.

Last week, the nonprofit American Institute for Economic Research named Washington, D.C., among “12 Cities That Offer The Best Work-Life Balance.”

This week, the American College of Sports Medicine named it the fittest of the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the county.

“Residents … enjoy a variety of outdoor exercise options, and have relatively low rates of smoking, obesity and diabetes,” according to a press release issued alongside ACSM’s eighth annual American Fitness Index.

Washington is followed by the Minneapolis/Saint Paul and San Diego areas.

This year’s American Fitness Index isn’t all good news, however.

Just since last year, the number of survey respondents who had exercised in the past 30 days dropped by 11.3 percent.

The fittest of the 50 largest U.S. metropolitan areas this year are:

  • Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Virginia-Maryland-West Virginia (fitness index score of 79.6)
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minnesota-Wisconsin (75.6)
  • San Diego-Carlsbad, California (75.6)
  • San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California (72.6)
  • Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, California (71.4)
  • Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colorado (71.1)
  • Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Oregon-Washington (69.6)
  • Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington (68.5)
  • Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Massachusetts-New Hampshire (68.1)
  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California (65.9)

The least fit of the 50 largest metropolitan areas are:

  • Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas (38.8)
  • New Orleans-Metairie, Louisiana (38.6)
  • Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, North Carolina-South Carolina (37.4)
  • Birmingham-Hoover, Alabama (34.5)
  • Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, Tennessee (33)
  • Louisville/Jefferson County, Kentucky-Indiana (32.1)
  • San Antonio-New Braunfels, Texas (32)
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (29.6)
  • Memphis, Tennessee-Mississippi-Arkansas (27.3)
  • Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, Indiana (26.8)

It should be no surprise that many of the cities near the top of the fitness rankings are also among the cities with the best parks in the nation, according to the Trust for Public Land’s fourth annual ParkScore Index.

The best parks among the nation’s 75 largest cities are in:

  • Minneapolis (score of 84)
  • St. Paul, Minnesota (84)
  • Washington, D.C. (81)
  • San Francisco (77.5)
  • New York (76.5)
  • Portland, Oregon (76.5)
  • Cincinnati (75)
  • Boston (72.5)
  • San Diego (71.5)
  • Seattle (71.5)

The Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit, cited Minneapolis’ Midtown Greenway, a six-mile converted rail line largely separated from car traffic, for helping the Minnesota city tie for first place with St. Paul, its neighbor across the Mississippi River.

The organization cited St. Paul’s creative approach to Frogtown Park and Farm, a “one-of-a-kind green space that combines community art and agriculture.”

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Stacy Johnson

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