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Washington, D.C., Clings to Title of Fittest City

Boston, Minneapolis-St. Paul Round Out Top 3 of America’s Fittest Cities List
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

May 27, 2010 -- The nation’s capital has claimed the top spot in the American College of Sports Medicine’s list of America’s fittest cities for the third straight year.

The ACSM’s American Fitness Index (AFI) for the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan areas is based on a composite of preventive health behaviors, chronic disease levels, community resources, and policies that support physical activity.

Most people in Washington do a considerable amount of walking, even if it is just from a stop on the rapid transit system to their office doors, the new report says. That’s good for cardiovascular health.

The ACSM received a grant from the WellPoint Foundation, based in Indianapolis, to study characteristics of each area and compute an index measuring health.

Walt Thompson, PhD, chairman of the advisory board of the American Fitness Index, says in a news release that the AFI measures state of health and fitness and also evaluates the infrastructure, community assets such as parks, and policies and opportunities that encourage people to stay in shape or get in shape.

“This initiative enhances our health improvement efforts across the country and allows us to be a stronger community partner in the states we serve,” Wesley Wong, MD, national director for WellPoint’s affiliated health plans, says in the release.

Characteristics that nudged Washington to the No. 1 spot included a relatively low smoking rate, a higher than average percentage of people eating the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables, and lower than average rates of chronic health concerns, such as obesity, asthma, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

The Metropolitan Statistical Areas of Washington-Arlington-Alexandria scored a 73.5 out of a possible 100 points in AFI’s report. The area also came in first in 2009 and 2008.

Other metro areas in the top five were Boston, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Seattle, and Portland, Ore.

Top Fittest Cities in America

Here is how the cities ranked:

Rank                                 Metro Area         2009 Rank

1. Washington, D.C.         73.5                              1

2. Boston                            72.6                              4

3. Minneapolis-St. Paul     71.7                             2

4. Seattle                             70.5                             6

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