Arlington, Va., Named ‘Fittest City’ in 2020 American Fitness Index Rankings
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Arlington, Va., Named ‘Fittest City’ in 2020 American Fitness Index Rankings

Jul 14, 2020

COVID-19 pandemic, research underscore importance of physical activity, infrastructure in the battle for community health

Arlington, Va., has been named “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 science-based ACSM/Anthem FitneAncss Index evaluated America’s 100 largest cities using 33 health behaviors, chronic diseases and community infrastructure indicators. Seattle, Wash.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Madison, Wis.; San Francisco, Calif.; Washington, D.C.; Irvine, Calif.; Denver, Colo.; Boise, Idaho; and Boston, Mass., round out the top 10 fittest cities.  Boston makes its first appearance in the Top 10 this year. You can access the full rankings and scores, summary report, city comparison tool and other insights on the American Fitness Index website at www.americanfitnessindex.org.

“We are pleased to reinforce our commitment to our local communities and whole person health and wellness with this year’s Fitness Index report. These annual rankings offer cities meaningful guidance on health habits within their communities and reveal how well those communities encourage healthy lifestyles among their residents,” said Gail K. Boudreaux, President and CEO of Anthem, Inc. “We’re pleased to provide municipalities with the data-rich information and resources they need to address social determinants of health and to motivate action.”

The evolving Fitness Index, now in its 13th year, allows leaders to focus on policy, systems and environmental change strategies that are based on evidence and create sustainability for their communities.

Arlington’s balance of healthy behaviors and community infrastructure earned it the #1 overall rank. Arlington ranked in the top 10 cities for 19 of the 33 indicators in the ACSM/Anthem Fitness Index. Two indicators ranked #1, including lowest rate of adults with obesity and highest rate of residents meeting aerobic and strength activity guidelines. Arlington has earned the fittest city title three consecutive years. You can compare your city to Arlington or others ranked in the Fitness Index by accessing the online City Comparison Tool.

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the critical role cities play in ensuring their residents have opportunities and infrastructure to lead physically active, healthy lifestyles. “We know from research that physical activity can build a healthier immune system and overall wellness, which help minimize harmful effects of illness and disease,” said Barbara Ainsworth, Ph.D., M.P.H., FACSM, chair of the American Fitness Index Advisory Board. “This pandemic shows the need to have local parks, trails and connected sidewalks in all neighborhoods that allow people to exercise safely. City leaders and planners need to act boldly and decisively to enact policies and funding to promote physical activity, better health and stronger communities.”

Ainsworth also notes that societal health challenges existed long before the pandemic, and the Fitness Index has provided the data needed to address them for more than a decade. “It should be of national concern that only one in four Americans meets national physical activity guidelines and more than 30 million have diagnosed heart disease,” she adds. “Sedentary lifestyles across the United States cost more than $117 billion annually in sick care services, adversely impacting both our nation’s health and economic well-being. This challenge has local solutions, and the Fitness Index is a prescription for communities to bring about positive change.”

Additional findings from the 2020 Fitness Index rankings include:

  • Across all 100 cities, indicators improved for the rate of residents exercising; fewer people smoking; parks within a 10-minute walk; and Bike Score, as compared to 2019.
  • Buffalo, N.Y., Toledo, Ohio, and Anchorage, Alaska, rankings improved by at least 15 spots from 2019.
  • Only 22% of adults in the 100 largest cities met the guidelines for both aerobic and strength activities. Adults need 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity, or roughly 22 minutes per day, for substantial health benefits.
  • Across all 100 cities, only 4.5% of residents walk or bike to work and only 7% use public transportation. Boston, Mass.; Jersey City, N.J.; New York, N.Y.; San Francisco, Calif.; and Washington, D.C., reported the largest percentages.
  • Neighborhoods connected by sidewalks, protected bike lanes, lighting and benches reduce pedestrian fatalities. Safety features can impact how often residents choose to walk or bike. The 10 deadliest cities for pedestrians (four are in Florida) averaged 5.5 pedestrian deaths per 100,000 residents, while the 10 safest cities averaged 0.6 fatalities per 100,000 residents.
  • Cities that experience weather extremes made it into the top 10 – Minneapolis, Minn. (#3); Madison, Wis. (#4); and Denver, Colo. (#8), showing that local leaders can make it easier for residents to stay physically active year-round.

More comparative data and indicator rankings are available at www.americanfitnessindex.org.

The 2020 ACSM/Anthem Fitness Index rankings are as follows

  1. Arlington, Va.
  2. Seattle, Wash.
  3. Minneapolis, Minn.
  4. Madison, Wis.
  5. San Francisco, Calif.
  6. Washington, D.C.
  7. Irvine, Calif.
  8. Denver, Colo.
  9. Boise, Idaho
  10. Boston, Mass.
  11. San Diego, Calif.
  12. St. Paul, Minn.
  13. Chicago, Ill.
  14. Oakland, Calif.
  15. San Jose, Calif.
  16. Portland, Ore.
  17. Honolulu, HawaiiA
  18. Atlanta, Ga.
  19. Lincoln, Neb.
  20. Sacramento, Calif.
  21. New York, N.Y.
  22. Pittsburgh, Pa.
  23. Milwaukee, Wis.
  24. Albuquerque, N.M.
  25. Buffalo, N.Y.
  26. Chula Vista, Calif.
  27. Santa Ana, Calif.
  28. Virginia Beach, Va.
  29. Long Beach, Calif.
  30. St. Petersburg, Fla.
  31. Austin, Texas
  32. Aurora, Colo.
  33. Colorado Springs, Colo.
  34. Durham, N.C.
  35. Anaheim, Calif.
  36. Raleigh, N.C.
  37. Anchorage, Alaska
  38. Norfolk, Va.
  39. Jersey City, N.J.
  40. Fremont, Calif.
  41. Newark, N.J.
  42. Omaha, Neb,
  43. Orlando, Fla.
  44. Los Angeles, Calif.
  45. Tampa, Fla.
  46. Richmond, Va.
  47. Miami, Fla.
  48. Plano, Texas
  49. Lubbock, Texas
  50. New Orleans, La.
  51. Cincinnati, Ohio
  52. Philadelphia, Pa.
  53. Baltimore, Md.
  54. Glendale, Ariz.
  55. Reno, Nev.
  56. Dallas, Texas
  57. Cleveland, Ohio
  58. Tucson, Ariz.
  59. Riverside, Calif.
  60. Greensboro, N.C.
  61. Nashville, Tenn.
  62. Hialeah, Fla.
  63. Chandler, Ariz.
  64. Scottsdale, Ariz.
  65. Stockton, Calif.
  66. Garland, Texas
  67. Charlotte, N.C.
  68. Mesa, Ariz.
  69. Houston, Texas
  70. Winston-Salem, N.C.
  71. Phoenix, Ariz.
  72. St. Louis, Mo.
  73. Irving, Texas
  74. Columbus, Ohio
  75. Chesapeake, Va.
  76. Fresno, Calif.
  77. El Paso, Texas
  78. Baton Rouge, La.
  79. Kansas City, Mo.
  80. Gilbert, Ariz.
  81. Toledo, Ohio
  82. Jacksonville, Fla.
  83. Laredo, Texas
  84. San Antonio, Texas
  85. Corpus Christi, Texas
  86. Lexington, Ky.
  87. Henderson, Nev.
  88. Las Vegas, Nev.
  89. Louisville, Ky.
  90. Fort Worth, Texas
  91. Wichita, Kan.
  92. Fort Wayne, Ind.
  93. Arlington, Texas
  94. Indianapolis, Ind.
  95. Detroit, Mich.
  96. Memphis, Tenn.
  97. Tulsa, Okla.
  98. North Las Vegas, Nev.
  99. Bakersfield, Calif.
  100. Oklahoma City, Okla.

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About the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)

ACSM is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 50,000 members and certified professionals around the world are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to improve educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine. A global leader in promoting the benefits of physical activity, ACSM advocates for legislation that helps the government and health community make physical activity a priority. ACSM encourages Congress to support continued funding of parks, trails and safe routes to school to better enable all Americans to meet the prescribed physical activity recommendations included in the National Physical Activity Guidelines. Find details at www.acsm.org.

 

About Anthem Foundation

The Anthem Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc. and through charitable contributions and programs, the Foundation promotes the inherent commitment of Anthem, Inc. to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that Anthem, Inc. and its affiliated health plans serve. The Foundation focuses its funding on strategic initiatives that make up its Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets: maternal health, diabetes prevention, cancer prevention, heart health and healthy, active lifestyles, behavioral health efforts and programs that benefit people with disabilities. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s year-round Dollars for Dollars program which provides a 100 percent match of associates’ donations, as well as its Volunteer Time Off and Dollars for Doers community service programs. To learn more about the Anthem Foundation, please visit http://www.anthem.foundation and its blog at https://medium.com/anthemfoundation.