Arlington has for the fifth time been named “America’s Fittest City” in the annual American Fitness Index rankings published by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the Elevance Health Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Elevance Health.
The index evaluated the nation’s 100 largest urban communities using 34 indicators. Rounding out the top 10 fittest are Madison, Wisc.; Minneapolis; the District of Columbia; Seattle; Irvine, Calif.; Portland, Ore.; St. Paul; Denver; and Chicago.
“Congratulations to those city leaders and planners who led efforts to develop parks and playgrounds, build bike paths and safe streets, and offer a built environment that encourages physical activity,” said Shantanu Agrawal, M.D., chief health officer of Elevance Health. “As we start to return to our previous routines, we need to underscore the significant mental and physical health benefits of exercise in our lives.”
Now in its 15th year, the Fitness Index offers community leaders valuable research to make potentially life-changing decisions in policy, systems and strategies that drive fitness and health improvements in their communities.
ACSM and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, about 22 minutes per day. They also recommend muscle strengthening activity twice a week. About 22 percent of adults in the Fitness Index cities reported no exercise in the previous month, and only 51 percent met the aerobic activity guidelines, while an even smaller percentage (24 percent) met the guidelines for both aerobic and strength activities.
Staying physically active is a way to help combat COVID fatigue and growing levels of mental-health issues that seem to be plaguing the nation.
“Increases in physical activity are likely to help reduce the mental-health burden,” said Dr. Stella Volpe, chair of the American Fitness Index Advisory Board.
Arlington’s fifth time at the top of the standings marks a Fitness Index record. The county ranked first in six indicators and scored among the top 10 communities in 19 of the 34 categories this time.
In addition to the top 10 cities listed above, communities that made the top half of the rankings (in order) included Oakland, Boise (Idaho), Boston, San Francisco, Aurora (Colo.), Lincoln (Neb.), New York City, Atlanta, Jersey City, San Jose, Buffalo, Honolulu, San Diego, Santa Ana (Calif.), Tampa, Fremont (Calif.), Austin, Sacramento, Plano (Texas), Spokane (Wash.), Anaheim (Calif.), Milwaukee, Albuquerque, Raleigh, Tucson, Richmond, Durham (N.C.), Pittsburgh, St. Petersburg, Miami, Long Beach (Calif.), Glendale (Ariz.), Virginia Beach, Omaha, Newark, New Orleans, Norfolk, Chula Vista (Calif.), Colorado Springs and Reno (Nev.).
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) serves as the largest sports-medicine and exercise-science organization in the world, with more than 50,000 international, national and regional members and certified fitness professionals.