Washington Is Fit, but Not the Fittest

For the second year in a row, one Midwestern city has kept the healthiest city title from us.

What US city is the fittest of them all? It's not Washington, according to the American College of Sports Medicine's annual fitness index report. Photograph courtesy of Flickr user The U.S. Army.

Washington may be consistently ranked as one of the fittest places in the country, but for the second year in a row we’ve been bested by the exercise-loving Twin Cities. Hmph.

Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, was deemed the healthiest and fittest metropolitan area in the US by the American College of Sports Medicine in its annual American Fitness Index report. Washington—the metropolitan area that includes Arlington, Alexandria, and parts of Maryland and West Virginia—came in second for the second year in a row.

City rankings were determined by examining levels of chronic disease conditions, health-care access, community resources, and policies that support physical activity. Minneapolis-St. Paul received a score of 77.2 out of 100; Washington received a 75.8.

The ACSM said Washington received a high rating thanks to its low percentage of smokers, high percentage of people with health insurance, more farmers markets per capita, and high percentage of people who bike, walk, or take public transportation to work, among other factors.

However, we lost points due to the high percentage of people suffering from asthma and fewer acres of parkland, golf courses, and playgrounds per capita.

In comparing our health behaviors with Minneapolis, we did not meet our target goal of physical activity or exercise in the past 30 days, while they surpassed theirs by 0.3 percent. However, we do tend to eat more servings of fruits and vegetables per day and are less obese than those in the Twin Cities.

The following cities rounded out the rest of the top ten list, respectively: Boston, Massachusetts; San Francisco, California; Hartford, Connecticut; Sacramento, California; Portland, Oregon; Seattle, Washington; Denver, Colorado; and Austin, Texas.

The least healthy and fit cities were Houston, Texas; Birmingham, Alabama; Dallas, Texas; Louisville, Kentucky; Detroit, Michigan; and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

The entire report is available on the ACSM American Fitness Index’s website