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Twin Cities Repeat as Fittest Metro Area

Minneapolis-St. Paul is the fittest metropolitan area in the United States for the second year in a row, according to a report released by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

The Twin Cities achieved a score of 76.4 out of a possible 100 points on ACSM’s annual American Fitness Index (AFI) data report, which measures such factors as physical activity levels, diabetes rate, quantity of recreational amenities, numbers of pedestrians, bike and transit commuters, and parkland as a percentage of the city land area, plus strong investment in park-related expenditures.

Minneapolis-St. Paul’s total decreased slightly from its previous score of 77.2 on the 2011 AFI data report. However, a mix of scores on personal health indicators and community and environmental indicators helped it repeat as the No. 1 metro area, according to the ACSM.

“For cities to compete for talent in the future and to provide a high quality of life for residents, it’s critical to regularly evaluate the infrastructure, community assets, policies and opportunities that encourage healthy and fit lifestyles,” Walter Thompson, chair of the AFI Advisory Board, said in a statement. “It’s up to community health leaders and advocates in each metro area to put this information to good use.”

Washington, DC (75.8) and Boston (70.0) are once again Nos. 2 and 3 on the list. Rounding out the top 10 this year are San Francisco (69.0); Hartford, CT (68.5); Sacramento, CA (68.4); Portland, OR (67.9); Seattle (67.8); Denver (65.6); and Austin, TX (63.4). Sacramento, which jumped from No. 10 to No. 6, and Austin, which jumped from No 16 to No. 10, made the biggest leaps among the top 10 cities.

The cities that made the biggest leaps in the top 50 were Raleigh, NC (58.8), which jumped from No. 24 to No. 14; Nashville, TN (47.3), which went from No. 37 to No. 27; and Riverside, CA (43.1), which went from No. 44 to No. 34.

The 2012 AFI data report, titled “Health and Community Fitness Status of the 50 Largest Metropolitan Areas,” was made possible by a grant from the WellPoint Foundation. Last year, ACSM received a $171,880 grant from the WellPoint Foundation to present the 2011 and 2012 AFI data reports and to pilot improvement efforts in Indianapolis and Oklahoma City, which both ranked in the bottom six last year. This year, Indianapolis (37.3) moved up to No. 43 while Oklahoma City remained at No. 50 (28.2). Also in the bottom five are Birmingham, AL (36.1); Dallas (35.1); Louisville, KY (32.1); and Detroit (29.4).

With leadership from the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis and Health by Design, community leaders and organizations in Indianapolis initiated a strategic plan based on a comprehensive review of in-depth interviews with key community leaders, according to the ACSM. The plan is expected to be released this summer.

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