The American College of Sports Medicine is out with its annual list of the United States’ fittest cities. The top five are: 1) Washington, D.C.; 2) Boston; 3) Minneapolis; 4) Seattle and 5) Portland, Oregon.
The ratings are based on 30 factors ranging from disease rates, mortality, physical attributes and lifestyle, fruit and vegetable consumption and physical infrastructures from parks to walking and biking facilities.
Whatever the weighting involved for these factors, it is clear that cities with great parks and recreational facilities, walkability and bike infrastructure rank high on this list. Providing these amenities (“necessities” is perhaps what we should say) actually helps improve the other factors of exercise, consumption of fruits and vegetables (e.g. more farmers’ markets) and disease rates, as research has suggested (and referenced in the recent “Let’s Move” Task Force action plan).
The formula is fairly simple: cities looking for a more fit populace should invest in parks, safe bike lanes and trails, and a built environment that fosters walkability (great streets, compact development, quality transit, etc.).