Big military towns are among some of the fittest in U.S., according to a new report from the workout wonks at the American College of Sports Medicine.
In the organization’s seventh annual American Fitness Index, which ranks the 50 biggest cities in the country according to fitness, San Diego, Seattle and the Washington, D.C., metro area earned spots in the top 10 list.
As a kind of annual checkup, experts gather data on everything from the number, size and use of parks, gyms and other sports and recreational opportunities to levels of smoking, disease and pollution to create an overall score on a scale of 1 to 100 for each city.
The report “is a snapshot of the state of health in the community and an evaluation of the infrastructure, community assets and policies that encourage healthy and fit lifestyles. These measures directly affect quality of life in our country’s urban areas,” says Walter Thompson, one of the experts involved in compiling the index.
High rates of biking and walking, abundant parkland and farmers markets helped the nation’s capital — home to the Pentagon and a slew of other military installations — earn the title of the nation’s fittest city with a score of 77.3.
The Seattle-Tacoma area of Washington, home to Joint Base Lewis-McChord and several major Navy bases, and San Diego, a major Navy and Marine Corps hub, came in seventh and eighth respectively.
The Virginia Beach-Norfolk area of Virginia — another sea services hub — is more in the middle of the fitness road, ranking 22nd with a score of 52 points, earning credit for high numbers of ball parks and golf courses but getting dinged for relatively high rates of smoking, obesity and eating too few veggies.
Toward the bottom of the fitness list, San Antonio — a big Army and Air Force town — came in 45th in the nation with an overall score of 36.6. The Alamo City took hits for everything from too few recreational outlets to too many people suffering from health problems and bad habits. In fact, lower levels of asthma was the only thing San Antonio earned praise for.
Top Ten Fittest Cities
1. Washington, D.C. – 77.3
2. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn. – 73.5
3. Portland, Ore. – 72.1
4. Denver, Colo. – 71.7
5. San Francisco, Calif. – 71.0
6. San Jose, Calif. – 69.4
7. Seattle, Wash. – 69.3
8. San Diego, Calif. – 69.2
9. Boston, Mass. – 69.1
10. Sacramento, Calif. – 66.9
Top Ten Least Healthy Cities
1. Memphis, Tenn. – 24.8
2. Louisville, Ky. – 25.7
3. Oklahoma City, Okla. – 31.6
4. Indianapolis, Ind. – 32.3
5. Nashville, Tenn. – 32.5
6. San Antonio, Texas – 35.6
7. Birmingham, Ala. – 35.9
8. Detroit, Mich. – 37.3
9. Orlando, Fla. – 40.8
10. St. Louis, Mo. – 41.3
Jon R. Anderson is a writer for OFFduty. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.