New Indicators Reveal Concerns About Pedestrian Safety and Air Quality
Indianapolis (May 14, 2019) – Arlington, Va. has earned the title of “America’s Fittest City” in the annual American Fitness Index® rankings published by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the Anthem Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc.
The ACSM/Anthem Fitness Index evaluated America’s 100 largest cities using 33 health behaviors, chronic diseases and community infrastructure indicators. Rounding out the top 10 cities were Seattle, Wash.; Minneapolis, Minn.; San Francisco, Calif.; Madison, Wis.; Washington, D.C.; St. Paul, Minn.; Irvine, Calif. (new to the top 10); Denver, Colo.; and Portland, Ore. You can access the full rankings and scores, summary report, city comparison tool and other insights on the American Fitness Index website.
Setting the standard for other cities, Arlington’s balance of healthy behaviors and community infrastructure earned it the #1 overall rank. Arlington ranked in the top 10 for 22 of the 33 indicators in the ACSM/Anthem Fitness Index, with six indicators ranked #1, including residents exercising in the last month; meeting aerobic and strength activity guidelines; reporting good or excellent health; and having low rates of smoking, poor physical health and pedestrian fatalities. You can compare your city to Arlington or others ranked in the Index by accessing the online City Comparison Tool.
“Our research-backed Fitness Index rankings reveal both personal health habits within a community and how well those communities encourage fitness among their residents. It’s one more way we are working to improve the lives of our communities in which we live and work every day,” said Stephen Friedhoff, M.D., chief clinical officer for Anthem. “For example, we added new social determinant of health indicators to this year’s report and learned that some cities have work to do in the areas of pedestrian safety and air quality, which are both critical to overall wellness. Four of the 10 worst cities for pedestrian fatalities are in Florida, and we know air pollution rivals car accidents and tobacco when it comes to causing deaths.”
At the community level, the ACSM/Anthem Fitness Index is used as an assessment and evaluation tool to educate community leaders on the importance of key indicators of physical activity. Leaders can then focus on policy, systems and environmental change strategies that are evidence-based and create sustainability for their community. ACSM and Anthem agree that the Fitness Index provides cities with the data and resources needed to drive healthy change.
“We challenge city leaders, regardless of where their community ranks on the ACSM/Anthem Fitness Index, to take bold and decisive action toward building and maintaining infrastructures that promote fitness,” said Barbara Ainsworth, Ph.D., chair of the American Fitness Index Board and a regents’ professor in the College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University.
“Chronic diseases, sedentary lifestyles and pedestrian fatalities are at critical levels in our country, and city leadership can effectively address each of these challenges by becoming a fit city,” Ainsworth added.
Additional findings from the 2019 Fitness Index rankings included:
2.2 pedestrian deaths per 100,000 residents on average across all 100 cities with the worst city, St. Louis, reporting 5.8 pedestrian deaths per 100,000.
Nearly half of the 10 deadliest cities for pedestrians are located in Florida: Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville and St. Petersburgh.
The 21 worst cities for air quality are in California, Arizona and Nevada.
Cities have poor air quality an average 38.3 percent of the year.
75.2 percent of adults in all cities were physically active in the previous month on average, with only 51.2 percent meeting aerobic activity guidelines and 22 percent meeting both aerobic and strength guidelines.
97 percent of residents in the top 10 cities are located within a 10-minute walk to a park, but only 66.4 percent are within a 10-minute walk of a park in all 100 cities.
An average of 30.3 percent of residents in all 100 cities were diagnosed with high blood pressure, 3.3 percent with heart disease and 2.9 percent were diagnosed with a stroke.
Only 4.5 percent of residents in all 100 cities walk or bike to work, and 7.1 percent use public transportation to and from work.