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Washington, D.C. Still the Fittest City

Get ready to shed those pounds off.

If you’re bordering on the overweight side and you’re planning to buy a house at the same time, why not consider Washington, D.C.? The American College of Sports Medicine recently revealed that the city topped its American Fitness Index for the third straight year. Aside from the state of health and fitness in an area, the index also “evaluates the infrastructure, community assets, policies and opportunities which encourage residents to live a healthy and fit lifestyle “. It explains, “Characteristics of the D.C. area that helped it achieve the top ranking are a relatively low smoking rate, a higher-than-average percentage of folks eating the recommended daily serving of fruits and vegetables, and lower-than-average rates of chronic health concerns such as obesity, asthma, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. D.C.-area residents also use public transportation regularly, meaning they are likely to walk to and from their places of work or transit stations. Also, the area of parkland as a percentage of the city’s land area is significant, providing residents with lots of space to run, bike, play sports or take a leisurely walk.”

If you prefer other areas, you may want to settle in Boston, MA, the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN, Seattle, WA, Portland, OR and Denver, CO. The biggest year-on-year jumpers in the list are Sacramento, CA (from 12th to 7th), Jacksonville, FL (from 28th to 24th) and Riverside, CA (from 40th to 36th).

Speaking to Forbes Magazine, Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty expressed, “We are thrilled to be the fittest city in the nation for the third consecutive year. We are investing in our recreation centers, building new swimming pools and opening more parks so our residents can exercise, swim, walk, bike and compete in sports.”

On the other hand, stay away from Oklahoma City, OK which is last, dropping 5 places to 50th. It’s a major concern for city officials to say the least. According to the same report, Mayor Rick Cornett explains, “I’m not saying we shouldn’t be last. There are issues here that are real that we’re not running away from. We have an obesity problem.” He contends the ranking procedure however since the city doesn’t run schools and so its playgrounds won’t count in the survey’s city-owned parks criterion.

I have some suggestions on the method though. First, while the rate of illnesses can speak highly of a city’s current state of health, it must also find a way how to measure the frequency of usage of exercise facilities that it has originally counted. This can put more relevance on the criteria.

Second, while it has included smoking rate among a city’s population, it must also take into account the various health campaigns that its local government is implementing. While access to fitness facilities is important, it must also evaluate the programs that each public office is instituting as a preventive measure against diseases and illnesses.

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