Deseret News
We really believe that if people don't have the environment to exercise, they probably won't. —Walter Thompson, chairman of the AFI

INDIANAPOLIS — The American College of Sports Medicine says Minneapolis-St. Paul tops the American Fitness Index list when it considers which of the biggest 50 metro areas are the most geared to healthy, active lifestyles. This is the third-consecutive year that the Twin Cities have topped that particular chart.

The AFI/ACSM list is based on scores for preventive health behaviors, how much chronic disease exists, availability of health care, and the degree to which infrastructure and policies support physical activity. It also looks at things that communities could do to improve. Both personal health and community factors are considered in the rankings.

The Twin Cities scored 78.2 out of a possible 100. The others in the top dozen were Washington, D.C.; Portland, Ore.; San Francisco; Denver; Boston; Sacramento, Calif.; Seattle; Hartford, Conn.; San Jose, Calif.; Austin, Texas; and Salt Lake City. The lowest score went to Oklahoma City at 31.2.

The scorecard has been issued for six years — the goal to highlight communities that are fitness-friendly and work to improve quality of life, said Walter Thompson, chairman of the AFI, in a statement. "As urban areas attract more and more residents, it's imperative for cities to create a built environment, fund amenities and form policies that get residents active and encourage healthy lifestyles."

Thompson told USA Today that Minneapolis has more baseball diamonds, playgrounds, golf courses and dog parks than other cities. It's also willing to spend on parks (about $227 a person), which are a fitness-friendly type of venue.

"We really believe that if people don't have the environment to exercise, they probably won't," Thompson told USA Today.

Besides Oklahoma City, others at the bottom of the list were Memphis, Tenn.; Louisville, Ky.; San Antonio; and Detroit.

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There are other fit-city rankings out there and some of them come out quite differently, depending on what the criteria are. The Nerdwallet ranking, out a week ago, gave top honors to Boston, followed by Seattle; and Portland, Ore. Salt Lake City came in 14th in that one.

Nerdwallet judged cities on fitness, using the American Fitness Index, on accessibility of health care including the percentage of residents who are insured and the number of physicians per 100,000 residents, and on air quality.

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