Ranking the Health and Fitness of Metro Areas (Infrastructure Matters)

Melanie Haiken shares insight into the findings of the American Fitness Index (AFI), which assesses the "Health and Community Fitness Status of the 50 Largest Metropolitan Areas."
Lissandra Melo / Shutterstock

The American College of Sports Medicine, the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world, has released the newest edition of the American Fitness Index (AFI).

Planners should pay attention to the rating because it considers infrastructure rather than just culture: "The key to who wins and who loses in this particular competition is infrastructure. The AFI’s mission is to encourage cities to prioritize the health of their residents and spend and make improvements accordingly. So a city that just happens to have lots of gym-going, veggie-eating residents (think New York) is not necessarily going to rate, because the city’s culture and politics are not at work supporting residents in making health and lifestyle changes."

That's why this year's rating consider WalkScore ratings for the first time.

"One thing is clear; the west is winning the healthy lifestyle war. With the addition of San Diego, 6 of the top 10 cities are now on the West Coast. The Midwest boasts just one city in the top 10, the south not one."

As for some of the indicators of health in the country's healthiest metro, obesity rates are a good place to look, because "all five of the healthiest cities boasted obesity rates under 23 percent and smoking rates under 18 percent. (Just 10 percent for San Francisco and 13 percent for D.C.)"

Full Story: Top 20 Healthiest Cities In America 2014

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