The recently released 8th annual report of the American Fitness Index (AFI) ranks the 50 biggest U.S. metropolitan areas based on 32 health indicators. Community health and fitness, access to city parks, personal health measures, preventive health behaviors and levels of chronic disease conditions were a few of the parameters used for measurement. Click through to read about the 10 healthiest and 10 unhealthiest U.S. cities.
According to the AFI report, the metropolitan areas that ranked in the top 10 have “strong community fitness, a concept analogous to individuals having strong personal fitness.”
10. SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA
Residents from this city are conscious about what they eat and tend to include three vegetables in their meals. Factors like a high percent of parkland compared to city land and a low death rate due to cardiovascular diseases were significant in its ranking.
9. BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS
Among the greater Boston population, fewer people die of diabetes or cardiovascular diseases. The communities here have a high Walk Score (an index of neighborhood walkability), and residents are more likely to use public transportation or bicycle to work.
8. SEATTLE, WASHINGTON
Seattle has more tennis courts, more dog parks and a higher percent of expenditure on parks per capita, along with a comparably higher number of farmers’ markets to contribute to its high score.
7. PORTLAND, OREGON
Portland’s high rank is attributed in part to a higher percent meeting CDC aerobic activity guidelines, more golf courses, a high Walk Score and fewer cardiovascular-related deaths. Portland also has many dog parks, tennis courts and a higher percent of population within a 10-minute walk to a park.
6. DENVER, COLORADO
Denver puts a premium on physical activities and an outdoor lifestyle, reflected in a higher number of swimming pools, dog parks, baseball diamonds, golf courses and tennis courts. The state requirement for physical education is also higher than average.
5. SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA
Being in California’s Central Valley, where a third of America’s produce is grown, it’s no surprise that a higher percentage of Sacramentans eat more than two fruits and three vegetables daily. They also enjoy more farmers’ markets per capita.
4. SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
Of the 32 parameters, San Francisco scored high (better than the target goal) on 15 parameters. They include a lower percentage of smokers, a low percentage of obese people, a high Walk Score and higher percent of city land area as parkland, among others.
3. SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA
The people of San Diego benefit from its perfect climate and an abundance of outdoor options. The metropolitan area has a very high percentage of city land as parkland, and 75 percent of residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park.
2. MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA
The city of Minneapolis scores high in recreational facilities categories, as it has a high number of ball diamonds, dog parks, playgrounds, golf courses and tennis courts. A high percentage meet both the CDC aerobic and strength activity guidelines, plus the area boasts a high number of farmers’ markets per capita and healthy eaters.
1. WASHINGTON DC
The nation’s capital is also its fittest city for the second year running. It scored above average access to public infrastructures. A high percentage of residents walk or bicycle to work. Washington D.C has many recreational centers, tennis courts, swimming pools and parks. It also has a low death rate due to chronic health problems.
10. DALLAS, TEXAS
Even though Dallas has more acres of parkland per capita, more tennis courts and its citizens report good mental health, the city scored high on unhealthy eating habits, less importance on physical activities, obesity and a higher rate of death due to chronic health problems.
9. NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
The birthplace of jazz does not hold fitness in as high esteem as music. Despite scoring high on recreational facilities and open public spaces, the percentage of obese people is high and the percentage of people who are not in excellent physical health is also high.
8. CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA
Charlotte scored above average on only three parameters: more acres of parkland per capita, more farmers’ market per capita and a higher level of state requirement for physical education classes. On the negative side, the percentage of obese people and smokers is high. Not many people walk, few take public transport or bicycle to work and the city ranks low on access to recreational facilities.
7. BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA
Birmingham has plenty of recreation centers though few use them. Not many walk or bicycle to work and private cars are the preferred mode of transportation. A third of Birmingham residents are obese, and the death rate for cardiovascular disease is high.
6. NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE
Despite having an unusual number of acres of parkland, its park-related expenditures are low and it lags behind other metropolitan areas in recreational facilities, fruit and vegetable consumption and walkability.
5. LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY
The AFI recommends that Louisville residents improve in some key areas, including percent of any physical activity or exercise in the last 30 days, percent consuming 2+ fruits per day and percent consuming 3+ vegetables per day. Louisville has a high number of smokers.
4. SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS
San Antonio, the seventh-largest city in the U.S., ranked in the top 10 for the fastest-growing cities in the first decade of the new millennium. More than 36 percent of San Antonians are obese and only 40 percent are in good or excellent health.
3. OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA
Oklahoma City has a high percent of parkland per capita though AFI says it needs to improve park-related expenditure. Oklahoma also has a low level of state requirement for physical education. On the positive side, Oklahoma City launched “Wellness Now,” a plan to improve the health and wellness of its community.
2. MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
First the good news: Memphis scores low on the asthma index, and has more golf courses and recreational centers per capita. However, it scores high on people with chronic health problems and more deaths attributed to cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. Memphians have unhealthy eating habits and score low on meeting both CDC aerobic and strength activity guidelines.
1. INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA
Indianapolis comes in last as it fails to meet expectations on nearly all of the 32 health indicators it was measured on. It scored better than the target goal on just two parameters: a high number of golf courses and more farmers’ markets per capita.