American Fitness Index: Virginia leads the pack, while Oklahoma struggles to keep up
The American Fitness Index ranks US cities based on activity levels. Arlington, VA, and Washington, D.C. top the list, while Oklahoma City is last.
According to the annual American Fitness Index by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and Elevance Health Foundation, approximately half of American adults are not getting enough aerobic activity, and less than one in four are meeting the requirements for both aerobic and strength exercises.
The fitness rankings are based on 34 personal and community health indicators, and they provide valuable insight for city and community leaders to devise policies, systems, and strategies to improve health and fitness among residents. This year's report highlights a notable relationship between mental health and fitness, with about 42% of adults reporting poor mental health in the past month.
Arlington, Virginia is fittest of 'em all
The fittest city for the sixth consecutive year is Arlington, Virginia, setting an impressive standard for other cities to follow. Washington, D.C. closely followed in the second position, showcasing a shared commitment to fitness in the region. Seattle, Minneapolis, and Irvine, California rounded out the top five fittest cities.
Oklahoma residents need to improve their fitness regime
On the other end of the spectrum, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, took the last spot at 100, indicating that improvements are needed to promote fitness and overall health among its residents. Other cities in the bottom five include Wichita, Kansas; Bakersfield, California; Louisville, Kentucky; and North Las Vegas, Nevada.
The ACSM emphasizes the importance of physical activity in reducing the prevalence of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Unfortunately, approximately 31% of residents in the top 100 cities are obese, while 30% have high blood pressure, both of which have become more common during the pandemic. Such chronic health conditions put individuals at a higher risk for COVID-19 complications.
While it is encouraging that 51% of respondents in the top 100 cities met the aerobic guidelines, only 24% achieved both aerobic and strength-training recommendations. The ACSM stresses that even moderate-intensity aerobic activity combined with muscle-strengthening exercises can have significant health benefits.
Dr. Stella Volpe, Chair of the American Fitness Index Advisory Board and ACSM President-Elect urges communities to take bold actions in promoting physical activity and health. "It doesn't have to be running a marathon. It could be out for a walk with your friends, your dogs, your family," she suggests.
The ACSM and Elevance Health Foundation utilized a combination of U.S. census data and other publicly available records to determine the rankings. The report considered various factors, such as health behaviors, chronic health conditions, air quality indexes, availability of recreational facilities, and local policies encouraging active lifestyles.