Arlington, Va. is #1 ‘Fittest City’; 2019 American Fitness Index Ranks 100 Cities

New Indicators Reveal Concerns About Pedestrian Safety and Air Quality


Mike Fulton at (301) 651-2508 or MikeF@asheragency.com (Asher Agency)

Lisa Ramage at (317) 352-3847 or Lramage@acsm.org (American College of Sports Medicine)

Leslie Porras at (202) 508-7891 or Leslie.Porras@anthem.com (Anthem Foundation)

Arlington, Va. is #1 ‘Fittest City’

2019 American Fitness Index Ranks 100 Cities;

New Indicators Reveal Concerns About Pedestrian Safety and Air Quality

Newswise — Indianapolis (May 14, 2019) – Arlington, Va. has earned the title of “America’s Fittest City” in the annual American Fitness Index® rankings published by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the Anthem Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc.

The ACSM/Anthem Fitness Index evaluated America’s 100 largest cities using 33 health behaviors, chronic diseases and community infrastructure indicators. Rounding out the top 10 cities were Seattle, Wash.; Minneapolis, Minn.; San Francisco, Calif.; Madison, Wis.; Washington, D.C.; St. Paul, Minn.; Irvine, Calif. (new to the top 10); Denver, Colo.; and Portland, Ore. You can access the full rankings and scores, summary report, city comparison tool and other insights on the American Fitness Index website.

Setting the standard for other cities, Arlington’s balance of healthy behaviors and community infrastructure earned it the #1 overall rank. Arlington ranked in the top 10 for 22 of the 33 indicators in the ACSM/Anthem Fitness Index, with six indicators ranked #1, including residents exercising in the last month; meeting aerobic and strength activity guidelines; reporting good or excellent health; and having low rates of smoking, poor physical health and pedestrian fatalities. You can compare your city to Arlington or others ranked in the Index by accessing the online City Comparison Tool.

“Our research-backed Fitness Index rankings reveal both personal health habits within a community and how well those communities encourage fitness among their residents. It’s one more way we are working to improve the lives of our communities in which we live and work every day,” said Stephen Friedhoff, M.D., chief clinical officer for Anthem. “For example, we added new social determinant of health indicators to this year’s report and learned that some cities have work to do in the areas of pedestrian safety and air quality, which are both critical to overall wellness. Four of the 10 worst cities for pedestrian fatalities are in Florida, and we know air pollution rivals car accidents and tobacco when it comes to causing deaths.”

At the community level, the ACSM/Anthem Fitness Index is used as an assessment and evaluation tool to educate community leaders on the importance of key indicators of physical activity. Leaders can then focus on policy, systems and environmental change strategies that are evidence-based and create sustainability for their community. ACSM and Anthem agree that the Fitness Index provides cities with the data and resources needed to drive healthy change.

“We challenge city leaders, regardless of where their community ranks on the ACSM/Anthem Fitness Index, to take bold and decisive action toward building and maintaining infrastructures that promote fitness,” said Barbara Ainsworth, Ph.D., chair of the American Fitness Index Board and a regents’ professor in the College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University.

“Chronic diseases, sedentary lifestyles and pedestrian fatalities are at critical levels in our country, and city leadership can effectively address each of these challenges by becoming a fit city,” Ainsworth added.

Additional findings from the 2019 Fitness Index rankings included:

  • 2 pedestrian deaths per 100,000 residents on average across all 100 cities with the worst city, St. Louis, reporting 5.8 pedestrian deaths per 100,000.
  • Nearly half of the 10 deadliest cities for pedestrians are located in Florida: Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville and St. Petersburgh.
  • The 21 worst cities for air quality are in California, Arizona and Nevada.
  • Cities have poor air quality an average 38.3 percent of the year.  
  • 2 percent of adults in all cities were physically active in the previous month on average, with only 51.2 percent meeting aerobic activity guidelines and 22 percent meeting both aerobic and strength guidelines.
  • 97 percent of residents in the top 10 cities are located within a 10-minute walk to a park, but only 66.4 percent are within a 10-minute walk of a park in all 100 cities.
  • An average of 30.3 percent of residents in all 100 cities were diagnosed with high blood pressure, 3.3 percent with heart disease and 2.9 percent were diagnosed with a stroke.
  • Only 4.5 percent of residents in all 100 cities walk or bike to work, and 7.1 percent use public transportation to and from work.

The 2019 ACSM American Fitness Index rankings are as follows:

Overall RankCityStateOverall Score
1ArlingtonVA87.3
2SeattleWA77.9
3MinneapolisMN76.4
4San FranciscoCA75.7
5MadisonWI75.3
6WashingtonD.C.75.1
7St. PaulMN69.5
8IrvineCA69.4
9DenverCO68.4
10PortlandOR67.8
11OaklandCA67.7
12San JoseCA67.4
13BoiseID66.7
14San DiegoCA66.7
15ChicagoIL66.2
16PittsburghPA66
17LincolnNE63.2
18Long BeachCA62.5
19BostonMA62.5
20SacramentoCA61.9
21St. PetersburgFL61.6
22AtlantaGA61.2
23Virginia BeachVA60.4
24Santa AnaCA60
25MilwaukeeWI59.7
26HonoluluHI59.5
27Los AngelesCA59
28DurhamNC58.2
29Chula VistaCA58.2
30RaleighNC57.7
31AlbuquerqueNM57.5
32New YorkNY57.3
33StocktonCA56.9
34FremontCA56.8
35MiamiFL56.6
36NewarkNJ56.3
37AnaheimCA56.1
38RichmondVA55.7
39Colorado SpringsCO55.7
40AuroraCO55.1
41.5OrlandoFL54.5
41.5BuffaloNY54.5
43AustinTX54
44PlanoTX53.2
45OmahaNE52.7
46TampaFL52.3
47NorfolkVA52.2
48NashvilleTN51.3
49RenoNV50.9
50Jersey CityNJ50.9
51St. LouisMO50.5
52BaltimoreMD50.4
53TucsonAZ49.7
54New OrleansLA49.3
55HialeahFL49.1
56GreensboroNC48.2
57CincinnatiOH47.9
58RiversideCA47.6
59GlendaleAZ47.5
60LubbockTX47.4
61DallasTX47.4
62AnchorageAK46.5
63PhiladelphiaPA46.5
64FresnoCA46.2
65ClevelandOH45.9
66MesaAZ44.3
67Kansas CityMO43.6
68ChandlerAZ43.3
69ScottsdaleAZ43
70ColumbusOH42.6
71PhoenixAZ41.9
72El PasoTX41.8
73HoustonTX41.5
74LexingtonKY41.2
75CharlotteNC41.1
76GarlandTX40
77JacksonvilleFL39.4
78IrvingTX39
79Baton RougeLA38.5
80LaredoTX37.9
81Winston-SalemNC37.4
82San AntonioTX36.3
83GilbertAZ36.3
84ChesapeakeVA35.8
85Las VegasNV34.3
86Fort WayneIN34.3
87MemphisTN33.8
88Fort WorthTX33
89HendersonNV32.6
90WichitaKS31.6
91Corpus ChristiTX31
92ArlingtonTX30.8
93DetroitMI30.5
94BakersfieldCA30.3
95LouisvilleKY28.8
96IndianapolisIN28.6
97ToledoOH27.8
98TulsaOK27.8
99North Las VegasNV27.2
100Oklahoma CityOK20.8

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About the American College of Sports Medicine

The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 50,000 international, national and regional members are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to improve educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine. More details can be found at www.acsm.org.

ACSM is a global leader in promoting the benefits of physical activity and advocates for legislation that helps government and the health community make it a priority. ACSM encourages Congress to support continued funding of parks, trails and safe routes to school, to better enable all Americans to meet the prescribed physical activity recommendations included in the National Physical Activity Guidelines.

About Anthem Foundation

The Anthem Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc. and through charitable contributions and programs, the Foundation promotes the inherent commitment of Anthem, Inc. to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that Anthem, Inc. and its affiliated health plans serve. The Foundation focuses its funding on strategic initiatives that make up its Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets: maternal health, diabetes prevention, cancer prevention, heart health and healthy, active lifestyles, behavioral health efforts and programs that benefit people with disabilities. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s year-round Dollars for Dollars program which provides a 100 percent match of associates’ donations, as well as its Volunteer Time Off and Dollars for Doers community service programs. To learn more about the Anthem Foundation, please visit http://www.anthem.foundation and its blog at https://medium.com/anthemfoundation.

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