Arlington is nation’s fittest city, with DC close behind, annual ranking says

Washington, D.C. and Arlington, Virginia were the only two cities on the East Coast to make the Top 10 fittest cities on the 2019 American Fitness Index. (Courtesy ACSM/Anthem Foundation)

Arlington, Virginia, is the nation’s fittest city, according to a new analysis released Tuesday evaluating exercise habits and overall health in America’s biggest urban areas.

The 2019 American Fitness Index placed Arlington first out of 100 cities analyzed for 33 indicators covering health behaviors like exercise, prevalence of chronic diseases and community infrastructure.

The list is published yearly by the American College of Sports Medicine and the Anthem Foundation, a philanthropic arm of the Anthem insurance company.

Arlington ranked within the Top 10 cities for 22 of them, and came first in six — including number of residents exercising in the last month, meeting aerobic and strength activity guidelines, population reporting a good or excellent state of health.

The city also had the lowest rates of residents who smoke and who live in poor physical health — as well as the lowest occurrence of pedestrian deaths — out of the 100 cities examined.

D.C. came in sixth overall, ranking first out of all cities in percentage of residents who walk or bike to work, availability of farmers markets and percentage of residents who eat three or more vegetables per day.

“We love Washington — we have parks, we have monuments, we have gyms and our walkability is through the ceiling,” Pamela Peeke, a spokeswoman for ACSM, told WTOP. “D.C. is a standout, there’s absolutely no question.”

The American Fitness Index results on biking echo another recent report ranking the nation’s best biking cities, in which D.C. and Arlington also received high marks.

Other cities in Maryland and Virginia region included in the report were Virginia Beach, ranking 23rd; Richmond, ranking 38th; Baltimore, ranking 52nd; and Chesapeake, Virginia, ranking 84th.

Around the country, Seattle, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Denver and Chicago also ranked high on the list. The lowest 10 out of the 100 cities analyzed include Detroit, Toledo, Indianapolis and Louisville. Dead last: Oklahoma City.

The annual list seeks to be an assessment and evaluation tool for community leaders wanting to learn about and improve key indicators of physical activity, ACSM said in a news release, adding that the goal of the report is to provide sufficient data and resources “to drive healthy change.”

The full list of results, including city comparisons, can be read on the America Fitness Index’s website.

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