For the third consecutive year, Minneapolis-St. Paul is the healthiest, fittest metropolitan area in the United States, according to the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) annual American Fitness Index™ (AFI).
Established six years ago with support from the WellPoint Foundation, the AFI data report evaluates the infrastructure, community assets and policies that encourage healthy and fit lifestyles in the 50 most populous metro areas in the United States.
The 2013 AFI data report, “Health and Community Fitness Status of the 50 Largest Metropolitan Areas,” reflects a composite of preventive health behaviors, levels of chronic disease conditions, health care access and community resources and policies that support physical activity. Included in the report’s latest edition are benchmarks for each data indicator to highlight areas that need improvement.
“We have issued the American Fitness Index each year since 2008 to help health advocates and community leader advocates improve the quality of life in their hometowns,” said Walter Thompson, Ph.D., FACSM, chair of the AFI Advisory Board. “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.”
To assist with measurement and to provide a baseline measure of health and fitness status, ACSM worked with the Indiana University School of Family Medicine and a panel of 26 health and physical activity experts on the methodology of the AFI data report. Researchers analyzed the data gleaned from U.S. Census data, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), The Trust for the Public Land City Park Facts and other existing research data in order to give a scientific, accurate snapshot of the health and fitness status at a metropolitan level.
The data examined fall into two categories:
- Personal health indicators
- Community and environmental indicators