Skip to Content

Support MinnPost

UCare generously supports MinnPost’s Second Opinion coverage; learn why.

Minneapolis-St. Paul ranked No. 1 — again — for fitness health

MinnPost photo by Corey Anderson

The American College of Sports Medicine has ranked Minneapolis-St. Paul "the healthiest, fittest metropolitan area in the United States."

Another day, another great health-related ranking for the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area.

For the second year in a row, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has ranked us "the healthiest, fittest metropolitan area in the United States." 

True, our total score, dipped slightly. Last year it was 77.2; this year, it’s 76.4. Still, that was enough to beat out the other top contenders: Washington, D.C. (75.8), Boston (70.0) and San Francisco (69.0).

At the bottom of the list were Louisville (32.1), Detroit (29.4) and Oklahoma City (28.2).

And, yes, the top four metropolitan areas on this list are the same ones that headed (albeit in a slightly different order) the Social Science Research Council’s rankings regarding women’s wellbeing, which I posted about on Wednesday.

Determining “fitness”

The ACSM’s “Fitness Index” uses four indicators — preventive health behaviors, levels of chronic disease, access to health care, and community resources and policies that support physical activity — to determine the “fitness” of metropolitan areas in two broad categories, “community” and “personal.”

The Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area ranked No. 2 in both of those broader categories, and that’s probably what enabled it to beat out the competition, pointed out John Keener, an associate professor of exercise science at the University of Minnesota-Duluth who also serves as the executive director of the ACSM’s Northland regional chapter, in an e-mail exchange with me on Thursday. For although San Francisco was No. 1 in the “personal” category, it was No. 14 in “community.” And Cincinnati, which topped the “community” category, scored a dismal No. 43 in the “personal” one (and was ranked only 20th overall).

“Looks like [Minneapolis-St. Paul] has good community resources and people who use them,” noted Keener. “If [Minneapolis-St. Paul] would eat more fruits/veg, or annex more parkland or fill a swimming pool, then they’d probably move to No. 1 in each category, and that would be hard to beat.”

How we scored

Here are the report’s “areas of excellence,” the ones in which we scored high and that enabled us to achieve our No. 1 ranking:

  • Higher percent of any physical activity or exercise in the last 30 days
  • Higher percent physically active at least moderately
  • Higher percent in excellent or very good health
  • Lower percent of days when physical health was not good during the past 30 days
  • Lower percent with diabetes
  • Lower death rate for cardiovascular disease
  • Higher percent of city land area as parkland
  • More farmers’ markets per capita
  • Higher percent using public transportation to work
  • Higher percent bicycling or walking to work
  • More ball diamonds per capita
  • More dog parks per capita
  • More park playgrounds per capita
  • More golf courses per capita
  • More park units per capita
  • More recreation centers per capita
  • More tennis courts per capita
  • Higher park-related expenditures per capita
  • Higher level of state requirement for physical education classes

And here are the areas where the report says we still need to make some improvement:

  • Lower percentage eating 5+ servings of fruits/vegetables per day

  • Higher percent with asthma

  • Fewer acres of parkland per capita

  • Fewer swimming pools per capita

Fewer swimming pools per capita? I cry foul. Who needs swimming pools when you have urban and suburban lakes?

You can download the ACSM Fitness Index Data Report in full from the ACSM website.

Get MinnPost's top stories in your inbox

Related Tags:

About the Author:

Comments (2)

on swimming pools

You have to have lived elsewhere in the U. S. or Europe to understand how dolefully unsupplied with public swimming pools Minneapolis is. One can claim, "But we have all those lakes!" and ignore the fact that, in Minneapolis, there are huge geographical areas of the city where there are no lakes (find a lake on the East Side, for instance; the only one there was, keeps trying to reassert itself in Columbia Park golf course by flooding and not draining--it was filled in with earth used to deepen Lake of the Isles about 100 years ago.)

The idea that a relatively weed-infested public lake, with maybe a lifeguard on duty, is a substitute for a regulation swimming pool could only be made in Minneapolis, with its myth about the accessibility of lakes and streams to all.

I'm with the national folks on this one (but then, I'm from outside!): we need more swimming pools, in parks, high schools, adjacent to hospital and clinic facilities, etc.

WSwim in lakes?

I'm glad the Twin Cities is ranked well in terms of health. That's not to say there isn't room for improvement as the average American is not able to maintain good health in this unhealthy eating environment we've created for ourselves (or let be created for us).

Also, I love to swim in open water and would love to swim in our beatiful and bountiful city lakes, but don't believe a one of them is clean enough. I vote for more pools as we clean up our mess.