For the second year in a row, Minneapolis-St. Paul has been ranked the second fittest of the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the United States, right behind Washington, D.C.
Coming in second isn’t bad, of course. But, hey, from 2011 to 2013, we were No. 1 in these annual rankings, which are published by the American College of Sports Medicine in conjunction with the Anthem Foundation.
Still, we can claim some serious bragging rights, particularly since we far outscored the other two Upper Midwest cities on the list: Chicago (17th) and Milwaukee (33rd).
A long list of health measures
The metropolitan areas in this report are judged according to a variety of personal and community health indicators. Personal indicators include such things as the percentage of residents meeting guidelines for exercise and vegetable consumption, as well as the percentage with diabetes, obesity or heart disease.
Community indicators include such measures as parkland as a percent of city land, the number of farmers markets per capita, and the percentage of residents who get to work in (or on) something other than a car.
The Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area scored well for its high number of recreational facilities, such as playgrounds, golf courses and ball diamonds; its numerous farmers markets; the percentage of residents who walk, bike or use public transportation; and its relatively low rate of deaths from heart disease.
We also far outperformed most of the other metropolitan areas on the amount of money we spend on parks. We spent $214 per resident per year, an amount that is more than twice the average expenditure of $101.80.
Room for improvement
Areas that we need to improve on? According to this report, more of us need to consume three or more vegetables a day. We also need more parkland and swimming pools. And we need to do more to encourage physical education classes in our schools.
The report that accompanies the rankings cites some troubling national trends. The number of people who reported exercising within the previous 30 days of being polled dropped 11 percent from the previous year. There was also a 5.5 percent drop in the number of people who said they consumed two or more servings of fruit per day.
And the death rate from diabetes increased 7.8 percent from 2014 to 2015.
The top and the bottom of the list
Here are the top 10 metropolitan rankings:
1. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
2. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI
3. San Diego-Carlsbad, CA
4. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
5. Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, CA
6. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
7. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA
8. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA
9. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH
10. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
And here are the five metropolitan areas at the bottom of the rankings:
46. Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN
47. San Antonio-NewBraunfels, TX
48. Oklahoma City, OK
49. Memphis, TN-MS-AR
50. Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN
You can read the entire 2015 “American Fitness Index,” including details about Minneapolis-St. Paul’s scores, at the American College of Sports Medicine’s website.
And eat more vegetables. It’s good for your health — and it might help us knock D.C. off the top of the list next year.