Indianapolis brings up the rear
Access to parks and paths for walking, jogging and biking helped make the Washington, D.C., area the fittest of the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S., according to the eighth annual ranking from the American College of Sports Medicine and the Anthem Foundation.
The ranking, the American Fitness Index (AFI), combines government data on personal health factors, such as obesity and smoking rates, and community aspects, like access to public parks and outdoor exercise options. The D.C. metro area is followed by Minneapolis, San Diego, San Francisco and Sacramento.
Physical education in schools and spending on public parks help drive a city’s place on the list. “The top cities, like D.C., for example, have a physical education requirement through high school,” said Walter Thompson, a health professor who chairs the AFI’s advisory board.
Washington, D.C., also scored high for lower levels of heart disease and a large number of farmers’ markets, recreation centers and people who bike or walk to work.
Indianapolis, Memphis, Oklahoma City, San Antonio and Louisville rounded out the bottom of the list, though three of the low-ranking metro areas have made progress, according to the National League of Cities:
47th-ranked San Antonio has added outdoor exercise equipment in many parks and added running and walking routes.
Oklahoma City, ranked 48th, is building new trail routes and improving sidewalks to boost recreation. A new public park is planned for downtown.
The mayor of Memphis, which ranked 49th, is hugely in favor of bike infrastructure, including building bike lanes and scenic bike routes.
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