Each year, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) ranks the 50 healthiest and fittest metropolitan areas in the United States using the American Fitness Index (AFI). Last year's winner was Washington D.C. This year, there's a new metro area on top.
The Twin Cities unseated Washington D.C. in 2011 with a reduction in smokers and moderate-to-low rates of chronic health problems such as obesity, asthma, heart disease and diabetes.
The city's score was 77.2 out of a possible 100 points.
Aiding their win, Minneapolis - St. Paul's percentage of park land is above average as is its amount of recreational facilities. Key factors like an increase in farmers markets indicated that the Twin Cities' residents are moving towards healthier lifestyles and eating habits, according to ACSM.
According to Walter Thompson, Ph.D., FACSM, and chair of the AFI Advisory Board, A regular, scientific evaluation of the infrastructure, community assets, policies and opportunities which encourage healthy and fit lifestyles is imperative for cities wishing to provide a high quality of life for residents. Community health leaders and advocates in each metro area can use the AFI data report to easily identify their strengths and areas of opportunity.
Here's a look at the top 5 cities for 2011:
1. Minneapolis - St. Paul, Minnesota 77.2 (Ranked 3rd in 2010)
2. Washington D.C. 76.8 (Ranked 1st in 2010)
3. Boston, Massachusetts 69.1 (Ranked 2nd in 2010)
4. Portland, Oregon 67.7 (Ranked 5th in 2010)
5. Denver, Colorado 67.6 (Ranked 6th in 2010)
Rounding out the bottom:
46. Detroit, Michigan 33.8 (Ranked 47th in 2010)
47. Birmingham, Alabama 33.6 (Ranked 49th in 2010)
48. Memphis, Tennessee 32.9 (Ranked 48th in 2010)
49. Louisville, Kentucky 29.0 (Ranked 46th in 2010)
50. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 24.6 (Ranked 50th in 2010)
The report notes that whether the metro areas are on top or bottom, each had strengths and weaknesses when it comes to health and fitness.
Mark Johanson is the travel editor at the International Business Times. He has traveled to and written about more than 30 nations and territories on every continent except...