After sagging to second place for the past three years, Washington has reclaimed its place as the fittest of the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan areas, according to an annual report from the American College of Sports Medicine. The American Fitness Index ranks mortality rates, chronic illnesses, and resources and policies that promote healthy living.
The Washington area scored highly on most of the index’s metrics, including low rates of death from cardiovascular disease and diabetes; a high number of parks, pools, and tennis courts per capita; a larger-than-average percentage of residents using non-car transportation; and a preponderance of farmers markets.
But the rankings suggest better “community health” than how individual Washingtonians care for themselves. While 81 percent of Washington-area residents exercise at least once every 30 days, the region still showed worse-than-ideal rates of obesity (24.1 percent), asthma (8.6 percent), and diabetes (8.5 percent). Residents could probably eat a bit better, too, with 16.3 percent eating three or fewer servings of vegetables per day and 34.1 percent consuming two or fewer servings of fruit per day.
As for the segments where Washington excels, the report counted 28.5 farmers markets for every 1 million residents and 14.1 percent of people who rely on public transportation to get to work, far outpacing the target rate of 4.3 percent.
Minneapolis held the top spot from 2011 to 2013, but fell back to second this year. Portland, Oregon, Denver, and San Francisco filled out the top five, while Memphis, Tennessee, bottomed out at No. 50.
See the full breakdown of the report’s Washington statistics online.