A low number of smokers, declining death rate for cardiovascular disease and more farmers’ markets per capita are among the factors that helped Washington D.C. become the fittest city in the U.S., according to the recently published American Fitness Index.
The report, established in 2008 by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the Anthem Foundation, ranks the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the United States using personal health, community and environmental indicators.
According to the report, cities that ranked near the top of the index devote more resources to support healthy living and have fewer challenges that hinder it. The opposite is true for cities near the bottom of the index.
Rounding out the top five behind Washington, D.C. were Minneapolis, Denver, Portland and San Francisco. Areas of excellence in these communities included lower obesity rates, lower death rates from diabetes, a higher percentage of city land area used as park land and higher rates of physical activity by residents.
Metro areas in the Midwest ranked as follows: Minneapolis 2nd, Chicago 12th, Milwaukee 20th, Cincinnati 23rd, Cleveland 25th, St. Louis 28th, Kansas City 30th, Columbus 38th, Detroit 42nd, and Indianapolis 50th.
Regardless of what your city or town has to offer in the way of parks or other health friendly attributes, you can find simple ways to incorporate more exercise into your daily routine and increase your fitness. Dr. Dory Jarzabkowski, a cardiologist with Advocate Heart Institute at BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill., offers the following tips:
- Add more steps to your workday. Take the long way to the office copier or the cafeteria. Walk over to see a coworker, instead of calling or emailing. And, if possible, take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Next time you make a date to catch up with an old friend, forget the coffee bar. Go for a walk together instead. You’ll have fewer food temptations, and chances are you’ll be so involved in your conversation that you’ll walk farther than you intended.
- Take a 10 to 15 minute walk around the neighborhood when you get home from work, before mealtime and other demands get the best of you.
- Quit wasting time and gas driving around looking for that perfect parking place. Instead, park as far away as you can and walk briskly to your destination.