The American Fitness Index (AFI) has ranked the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. based on the strength of community fitness. AFI chose Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) as the measurement of unit because defining a city by its city limits discounts the correlation between the city and its respective suburban areas.
To produce the AFI data report, scientific evidence, expert opinion and statistical methodologies were employed to select, weigh and combine the elements used.
“Our goal is to provide communities and residents with resources that help them assess, respond and achieve a better, healthier life,” Walter Thompson, chair of the AFI advisory board, said in a press release.
This year marked a strong shift, with nine metro areas improving by at least five rankings from last year. Cleveland, Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas, and St. Louis saw the greatest improvement, ranking 25th, 26th and 29th, respectively.
Top 10 Metropolitan Areas (Healthiest)
The Washington, D.C., metro area topped the AFI list as the healthiest metropolitan area in the country for the second consecutive year. AFI credits this to the ongoing efforts of the Washington, D.C., MSA that has invested in the community and environmental factors that support healthy and active lifestyles.
The East Coast does not hold the ultimate key, however, as six of the top 10 healthiest metropolitan areas hailed from the West.
1. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Virginia-Maryland-West Virginia
2. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minnesota-Wisconsin
3. San Diego-Carlsbad, California
4. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California
5. Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, California
6. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colorado
7. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Oregon-Washington
8. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington
9. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Massachusetts-New Hampshire
10. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California
Bottom 10 Metropolitan Areas (Unhealthiest)
AFI deemed the Indianapolis MSA as the least healthy city, as it did not reach the target goal in almost all of the 32 measured health indicators. Many cities use the AFI data report as a benchmark to create a healthier community. For instance, the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce implemented a “Healthy Charlotte” goal to place in AFI’s top 10 by 2018 and Oklahoma City launched a plan to improve the health and wellness of its community called “Wellness Now.”
40. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Michigan
41. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas
42. New Orleans-Metairie, Louisiana
43. Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, North Carolina-South Carolina
44. Birmingham-Hoover, Alabama
45. Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, Tennessee
46. Louisville/Jefferson County, Kentucky-Indiana
47. San Antonio-New Braunfels, Texas
48. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
49. Memphis, Tennessee-Mississippi-Arkansas
50. Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN