Runs like the National Police Week 5K are helping keep D.C. area residents at the top of the charts.
It looks like those extra sit-ups are paying off after all. Washington, D.C., was ranked the fittest metropolitan area in the country, according to a report from the American College of Sports Medicine.
The report assesses the country's Metropolitan Statistical Areas using 31 indicators broken into four categories: health behaviors, chronic health problems, built environment and recreational facilities. D.C. posted an overall score of 77.3 out of 100
Also among the country's fittest metro areas were Minneapolis, Minnesota, which had taken the top spot each of the last three years, as well as Portland, Oregon, Denver and San Francisco.
The fitness index was developed by researchers using data pulled from the U.S. Census, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Trust for the Public Land City Park and other research data. It's intended to be used as a snapshot for the health of communities and a guide for lawmakers in developing community assets that encourage a healthy lifestyle.
The D.C. area's parks and facilities were undoubtedly its strongest asset. Parkland makes up 19.5 percent of city land compared to a target goal of 10.6 percent, bolstered by spending of $398 per resident; the rate of farmer's markets relative to the population is 28.5 per million residents — more than twice the target goal; and D.C.'s WalkScore of 74 was well above the target of 51.1.
D.C.'s transportation infrastructure was also a major boon. As WAMU reported earlier this month, D.C. is the No. 2 city in the country for commuters walking and biking, with a combined 15.2 percent enjoying the outdoors on the way to work. More than 14 percent of residents use public transportation to get to work, as people move away from cars and the negative environmental effects (and health outcomes) that go along with them.
Of course, there's still room for improvement, even in the nation's fittest city. The American College of Sports Medicine is calling for higher physical education requirements in schools and rates of illnesses like asthma were higher than the target — which is only getting worse as treatment for childhood asthma lapses in poorer areas of the District.
Among other cities in the region, Richmond, Virginia Beach and Baltimore were ranked 21st, 22nd and 25th, respectively.
Washington D.C. Rankings In ACSM American Fitness Index