The Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area has topped the 10th annual American Fitness Index (AFI), released Tuesday by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the Anthem Foundation.
Members of the ACSM, the Indiana University School of Family Medicine and a panel of 26 health experts analyzed various government data in order to assign a numeric fitness score to each of the 50 largest metro areas in the United States. Minneapolis edged out the recent three-time-winner, Washington, D.C., with a record score of 80.2.
The seven fittest metro areas—Minneapolis; Washington, D.C.; San Francisco; Seattle; San Jose, California; Boston and Denver—each scored above 71.5 and finished 4 to 13 points higher than the other 43 in consideration.
"Our ultimate goal is to offer individuals, families and communities trusted resources that can help them assess, plan and implement policies that promote positive health outcomes,” said Walter R. Thompson, AFI Advisory Board chairman and ACSM president-elect, in a media release. “Ten years of evidence-based data offers these cities and their citizens valuable insights into how to substantively improve elements leading to healthier lives and reduced health care costs.”
Metro areas with the greatest improvements in their 2017 rankings include San Jose, Los Angeles; Miami; Buffalo, New York; Orlando, Florida; and Las Vegas. The areas with the largest ranking declines include Virginia Beach, Virginia; Richmond, Virginia; Providence, Rhode Island: Philadelphia; Kansas City, Missouri; New Orleans and Charlotte, North Carolina.
In compiling their full AFI report, researchers uncovered several negative nationwide trends since last year:
• An 11.7 percent increase in the rate of diabetes deaths
• A 6.3 percent decrease in the number of Americans biking or walking to work
• A 6.2 percent decrease in the number of Americans eating recommended fruit servings
• A 4.6 percent decrease in the number of tennis courts per 10,000 Americans
The researchers also shared a series of positive trends since their first report in 2007:
• Smoking rates have declined from 18.7 percent to 16.7 percent.
• Diabetes and cardiovascular disease death rates have generally declined.
• The number of farmers' markets have increased.
• Public transportation usage rates have increased from 2.1 percent to 4.4 percent.
• The number of Americans who bike or walk to work has increased from 1.3 percent to 2.9 percent.
• Total park expenditures per capita have increased from approximately $100 to $106.
Finally, they shared decade-long shortcomings as well:
• The obesity rate has grown from 25.4 percent to 28.7 percent.
• Americans self-reporting "excellent or very good health" decreased from 55.6 percent to 52.1 percent.
• Asthma diagnoses increased from 8.2 percent to 9 percent, and those for diabetes increased from 8 percent to 10.7 percent.
View an interactive map for all 50 analyzed metro areas here.