For the third year in a row, the American College of Sports Medicine has ranked the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area as the fittest in America. Who came in last? Oklahoma City.
“Minneapolis may be under snow for three months, but they capitalize on the resources that they have,” said Walter Thompson, chair of the advisory board that compiles the report, called the American Fitness Index.
The AFI considers city policies, community resources, health care access, the local prevalence of chronic diseases and preventive health behaviors in 50 metro areas across the United States. Minneapolis topped the list with 78.2 points. It was closely followed by Washington, D.C. with 77.7 points. Portland, Ore., San Francisco and Denver rounded out the top five.
Again Oklahoma City was last. It is a place OKC has claimed since 2008, the first year the AFI issued rankings.
However, despite the dead-last post, Okahoma City is making positive changes. This year the city’s annual health, wellness, fitness score rose from 24 points to 31.2 points this year.
Others at the bottom of the list are Memphis, Louisville, San Antonio and Detroit.
What sets the top-tier cities apart? Each has an infrastructure that supports physical activity. And each values their city parks. Minneapolis-St. Paul, for example, spends about $227 per person, per year on its city parks. Oklahoma City, by contrast, spends far less, about $60 per person, per year, according to a 2012 Trust for Public Land report.
More than half of the residents in the Twin Cities say they’re at least moderately physically active. That may be because they have more playgrounds, swimming pools, tennis courts, golf courses, baseball diamonds and dog parks, per capita, than other cities. They’re also more likely to take public transportation or to bike or walk to work, according to the report.