The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recently published their 2010 list of the fittest major cities in the United States. The full list ranks 50 major metropolitan areas in America – where does your city fit in with fitness?
The ACSM has listed the following cities as the top ten healthiest in the United States: Washington D.C., Boston, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Seattle, Portland (Oregon), Denver, Sacramento, San Francisco, Hartford, and Austin.
According to the press release from ACSM, “characteristics of the D.C. area that helped it achieve the top ranking are a relatively low smoking rate, a higher-than-average percentage of folks eating the recommended daily serving of fruits and vegetables, and lower-than-average rates of chronic health concerns such as obesity, asthma, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.”
The press release also goes on to say that “D.C.-area residents also use public transportation regularly, meaning they are likely to walk to and from their places of work or transit stations. Also, the area of parkland as a percentage of the city’s land area is significant, providing residents with lots of space to run, bike, play sports or take a leisurely walk.”
ACSM ranks metropolitan areas based on their AFI – or American Fit Index – which takes into consideration access to healthcare, health insurance coverage, education, parks and recreation systems and programs, prevalence of chronic disease (such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes), public policy dedicated to healthcare and prevention, and economic situations.
The lowest cities ranked on the list were New Orleans, Houston, San Antonio, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Louisville, Detroit, Memphis, and Birmingham, with Oklahoma City ranking last. These cities have traditionally higher rates of obesity and high unemployment rates in the recent economic climate.
Regardless of where you live, you can make the most out of your health and fitness goals by following the tips below. While it may be inspiring to those of you residing in one of the top ten fittest places in America, do not be discouraged if your city ranks at the bottom of the list. Here are some tips for staying healthy despite your living conditions.
1. Take advantage of annual medical physicals and preventative healthcare. If you are insured, make sure to visit your doctor annually and follow through with any preventative measures he or she may suggest for your age group
2. Use your environment to your advantage. Bike along forest trails, climb mountains, stroll along the beach, run along the city streets, kayak in the river, or walk your dog at the park. Utilize whatever you can in your environment to get and stay active – whether you live in a bustling city, a small rural town, a mountain village, or down by the beach.
3. Eat a healthy and nutritionally-balanced diet. You are what you eat, and you have the power to control what you consume. Your eating habits and body weight play a major role in the onset of chronic disease such as – but not limited to – cancer, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension.