And the Least Healthy City in America Is….
Each year the American College of Sport Medicine releases the American Fitness Index Report, which ranks the country's 50 biggest metropolitan areas in terms of exercise and general health. Here's the full list.
Talk about the blues. Memphis, a vibrant city and music mecca along the Mississippi River, is unfortunately in last place when it comes to exercise and healthy living. Each year the American College of Sport Medicine releases the American Fitness Index Report (AFI), which ranks the country's 50 biggest metropolitan areas in terms of exercise and general health.
This year, Washington D.C. took the top spot from Minneapolis, ending that city's three-year reign as the most fit. The three areas that landed on the bottom of the list? Oklahoma City, Louisville, and Memphis. (The full list is below.) Memphis fell four spots from last year, when it was ranked 46th.
So just how does a metro area get crowned the most or least fit? AFI looks at residents' exercise levels and fruit and veggie intake, and things like access to parks and farmers' markets, and how many people bike or walk to work.
The good news is that D.C. has lower death rates for cardiovascular disease and diabetes compared to other big cities, plus it has a big selection of farmers' markets and parks. Memphis does have higher rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, but it didn't come in last place for every stat the authors analyzed. Memphis has an above average number of golf courses per capita and residents reported fewer bad mental health days than other cities.
But remember that this index is about how cities stack up relative to one another and it doesn't mean that if you live in Memphis (or another city toward the bottom of the list) that you're doomed to live a sedentary, unhealthy life. The purpose of the list, the authors say, is to identify ways communities can support active lifestyles.
Still, a recent ranking of the 10 fittest cities by Facebook shows things differently. After tracking three months of users' fitness-related updates and check-ins (read: those annoying updates about how much your friends are working out), they deemed Virginia Beach—which was ranked 22nd on the AFI index—to be the winner. And while Oklahoma City ranked 48th out of 50 according to the AFI, it came in eighth on Facebook's top 10 list. But Facebook's ranking didn't take into account health factors beyond the posts, like obesity rates or eating habits, so it could just be that Oklahoma City is big on talking about fitness. (And for the record, Memphis didn't make Facebook's list.)
One state that should be very proud, though, is California. Four of its major cities, including San Francisco, San Jose, San Diego, and Sacramento, all nabbed spots in the top 10. Check out the full list below, and let us know if you think the rankings hold true for your area.
RankMetropolitan Area2014 Score1Washington, D.C.77.32Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.73.53Portland, Ore.72.14Denver, Colo.71.75San Francisco, Calif.71.06San Jose, Calif.69.47Seattle, Wash.69.38San Diego, Calif.69.29Boston, Mass.69.110Sacramento, Calif.66.911Salt Lake City, Utah65.712Hartford, Conn.63.813Raleigh, N.C.61.514Austin, Texas60.615Chicago, Ill.56.616Atlanta, Ga.56.017Pittsburgh, Pa.54.818Cincinnati, Ohio54.519Los Angeles, Calif.53.420Philadelphia, Pa.52.921Richmond, Va.52.322Virginia Beach, Va.52.023Providence, R.I.51.624New York, N.Y.51.525Baltimore, Md.50.826Miami, Fla.49.027Charlotte, N.C.48.128Riverside, Calif.47.529Buffalo, N.Y.47.230Jacksonville, Fla.46.631Tampa, Fla.46.032Milwaukee, Wis.45.733Cleveland, Ohio45.434Kansas City, Mo.45.135Houston, Texas44.0*36Phoenix, Ariz.44.0*37Las Vegas, Nev.43.738Dallas, Texas42.639New Orleans, La.42.440Columbus, Ohio41.3*41St. Louis, Mo.41.3*42Orlando, Fla.40.843Detroit, Mich.37.344Birmingham, Ala.35.945San Antonio, Texas35.646Nashville, Tenn.32.547Indianapolis, Ind.32.348Oklahoma City, Okla.31.649Louisville, Ky.25.750Memphis, Tenn.24.8 *Scores have been rounded to the nearest tenth of a point, resulting in some apparent ties; however, the rankings are based on the full, calculated scores that were not equal in those cases.