America's Fittest Cities: Where Does Yours Rank?

Minneapolis-St. Paul tops the American Fitness Index for its third straight year

Minneapolis-St. Paul topped the American Fitness Index for its third straight year.

Ever wonder how fit your city is? Every year, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) releases its American Fitness Index, a ranking of the 50 most populous cities based on health and community fitness. Number one on this year's just-released list—and it's third straight year as top dog—is Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota (including nearby Bloomington, Wisconsin).[slideshow:685]

The rankings are based on the health of an area's residents and how its infrastructure encourages a healthy lifestyle. Personal health indicators include residents' amount of physical activity, health insurance coverage, consumption of fruits and vegetables, smoking habits and incidence of chronic disease, among others. Built-environment indicators include the amount of parkland, per capita recreational facilities and farmers' markets, school physical education requirements and common modes of transportation, among others.

Click here for the 50 Fittest Cities slideshow.

The Twin Cities got top billing for health factors including above average physical activity, below average heart disease and death by heart disease or diabetes. Important built-environment factors included plenty of parkland, farmers' markets, playgrounds, golf courses, ball diamonds, tennis courts, recreation centers and high park-related expenditures. To that list, we'd also add that Minneapolis-St. Paul is a very bike-friendly city, famed for its unsanctioned alley cat bike races and its groundbreaking Nice Ride bike share program. And it features one of the nation's great beginner triathlons in the mid-July Life Time Triathlon.

Rounding out the Top 10 in the American Fitness Index were:
2. Washington, DC
3. Portland, Oregon
4. San Francisco, California
5. Denver, Colorado
6. Boston, Massachusetts
7. Sacramento, California
8. Seattle, Washington
9. Hartford, Connecticut
10. San Jose, California

Oklahoma City came last in the ranking, with a roughly even split between between personal health and environmental factors. Also at the bottom of the list were:
41. Birmingham, Alabama
42. Miami, Florida
43. Houston, Texas
44. Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas
45. Indianapolis, Indiana
46. Memphis, Tennessee
47. Louisville, Kentucky
48. San Antonio, Texas
49. Detroit, Michigan

The rankings reflect data for federally-defined Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), which generally include the areas surrounding a particularly city. That's because, the study authors say, city dwellers usually have access to suburban health improvement resources, and vice-versa.

To access specific reports on each metro area, click through to the American Fitness Index. Additional reporting and writing on this story by Jess Scanlon and Jonathan Moffie.

Click here for the 50 Fittest Cities slideshow.