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Why Fit Cities Aren't Enough

The annual ranking of fittest cities doesn’t address important inequalities.
A group of men do pull-ups at an outdoor exercise area in the Bronx.
A group of men do pull-ups at an outdoor exercise area in the Bronx. REUTERS/Mike Segar

The new American Fitness Index report ranks the overall fitness of the country’s 50 most populous cities. Topping this year’s list: Washington, D.C. In last place: Indianapolis.

The project—a collaboration between the American College of Sports Medicine and the Anthem Foundation—doesn’t determine rankings solely based on individuals’ behaviors, such as daily exercise. Yes, cities do score points for residents’ workouts and veggie consumption, but they're also graded on infrastructure that supports healthy lifestyles, including number of recreational facilities, prevalence of farmer’s markets, and acres of park land. For instance, in D.C., 95 percent of residents are less than a 10-minute walk from a local park. Only 31 percent of Indianapolis residents can say the same.